Saturday, February 25, 2006

In quest of harmony

In a world of increasing interaction between goods, people and ideas, in a world where the word "isolation" loses its significance by the day, it seems paradoxical the fact that quite often people cannot relate or even communicate successfully. Whether it is the family household or the Parliament is of little importance; what matters is that people fail to be "at the same pace" more so than not. What seems even more interesting is that gaps dividing parties tend to be huge rather than small; that collisions tend to be harsh rather than mild. Why?

While it is hard to generalize with such diverse exemples, patterns do emerge across imany ssues, even when the factors that cause them appear unrelated. The first thing that comes to mind is the complexity of issues: nothing today is to be dispelled as simple or easy; to do so it would be childish. Seldom can an issue of certain gravity be resolved using a single approach; most issues have many dimensions or layers and therefore many connotations. This is primarily because of the fact that the layers interact with one another in many ways but also because the technologic/scientific advances challenge our perceptions by the day.

To ignore or overmphasize one layer of an issue over another can shift the meaning of any concept in unprecedented ways. But this brings us to the second point which concerns the role of the individual. The interpretation one accords to a concept/term/problem, the failure or success to comprehend the layers of an issue, all depend on the individual's ability to perceive and evaluate the issue at stake. Despite the increased access to information, knowledge and education the closing of the mind has not perished. While in the past one could comprehend this phenomenon based on the historical/social elements of the era in question, what explanation is to be provided in our western societies where the rate of illiteracy has dropped so close to zero and people have the greatest access ever to information?

Certainly, one parameter to be taken into consideration involves how we use the resources available to us. With the rate of book reading(and newspaper) dropping in many countries one can question the extent that people take advantage of the resources. Second is the fact that we people may know a lot, but we often fail to contextualize the information or, with respect to others, we fail to put ourselves in their shoes. Whether this behavior reflects an inability or unwillingness to do so or results from an obsession with one's own self is yet to be known. Nonetheless it is destructive. The last scenario is the gloomiest. While information is abundant, people are masterfully channeled away from "subversive" ideas. Propaganda is not be found only in fascist/totalitarian states; the power of rhetoric most certainly has not collapsed with the Soviet Union and the fact that many among us might be "soldiers" without uniforms, (and often without knowing it), fighting in the name of some concept infiltrated to our psyche through persuasion or fear (or...) remains a distinct possibility.

Oblivious and unable to understand the root of discord, we push our case to the extreme while we refuse to look at successful cases that of course abound. Have we done any better? From divorces to riots to wars our societies have embarked on an increasingly difficult task: the search for agreement and peace, a challenge that grows more difficult by the day.

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