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Clashes of Narratives

November 18th, 2013 by dimpledbrain

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” Genesis 11: 6-7

Conflict. Hatred. Distrust. War. Need we say more?

Racism. Religious fundamentalism. Nationalism. Ideological fundamentalism.

Why do all these things happen in one sentence? Clashes of narratives. Differences in perspectives.

What do they have in common? They have all failed to unite people.

Instead of uniting people, it has created fractions and bred extremism.

All of us are somehow guilty of this – and seem helpless with the situation. “Because it just happens.”*

What can we do?

(1) One narrative vs diversity

  • I’ve noticed something in behaviourism, that is we tend to move in a swinging pendulum manner, between 2 totally opposite ends. Example we favour brawn previously and now it seems to swing back to brains. (click here for the post). To date, I’ve yet to find a satisfactory framework explaining this. Moderation seems the best policy so far.
  • So to achieve unity we can either have one narrative, i.e. kill off others or we can accept diversity as part of our strength, not weakness. I have a conviction that the younger generations can make this happen. Can globalization and the Internet be the ‘lowest common denominator’ to unite us all? It still appears hypothetical but if there really is a chance, I think this is our best bet.

(2) Accepting diversity vs paying lip service

  • One extreme end of accepting diversity is to close an eye on bad behaviours for fear of being labelled discriminatory. This usually happens in advanced nations like the United States. What will minority B do if he/she knows that majority A will always cooperate? (click here for the post). In such situation, the minority will be able to take advantage of the majority. The other extreme end of accepting diversity is to deny it completely. Here, the exact opposite happens and the majority will take advantage of the minority. This usually happens in less developed nations.

(3) What can we do?

  • Deeper conversation – interfaith dialogue is a good way to bridge differences in religions. Here, frank discussions can take place without watered down content. The result would allow for more transparency and appreciation of diversity among us. Sweeping things under the rug will not solve the problem in the longer term. How can we have more dialogues in other areas?
  • Voice of conscience – this will be easier said than done. Be colour blind and judge by the action and character of the person. Do not be manipulated by opportunists using religion as a reason.
  • Globalized fiction – I’ve yet to see this but fiction could be another way of uniting people. That is a fiction or story that incorporates elements of the entire world. In a way, the anime series Naruto has this subtle message. (does this mean Japan starts to recognize the importance of diversity after years of resisting foreigners?)

I rarely talk about good vs evil, and this may well be my first (and last) piece to do so. Conflict begets hatred, hatred begets distrust and distrust begets war. The inevitable will still happen, somehow. Our only hope is to contain it for as long as possible.

 

* Recommended reading – The Big Mo by Mark Roeder.

 

 

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