Written by: Garrison Cox
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Recent Graduate, Georgia State University
Recent Graduate, Georgia State University
The Philosopher’s Approach to Globalism
Today, the world thrives and prospers, and civilizations enjoy unprecedented peace and opportunities for success. Of course, the world is far from a utopia by any definition, but compared to the rest of humanities’ brief history our era of the 21st century is thought of as the culmination of all our efforts for the betterment and progression of our species. So, is the uninterrupted flow of time responsible for our progress? Are we naturally predisposed to will ourselves onward and upwards regardless of the major setbacks on our timeline? Perhaps.
Maybe time is rather the stage on which the forces of our universe act, and the laws of science that dictate the order and results of those forces interacting are the lines that they present for us, the observant audience. We would quickly notice that a character like Puck, the mischievous fairy from a Midsummer Night’s Dream, is performed by the meddlesome force of gravity. Just like Puck moves in a confusing manner to grab seemingly distant and detached characters and mix them all together, so too does gravity act on foreign peoples and eventually draw them close. In the 21st century there is immense gravity linked with the internet, and before the internet radio, and previously telegraphs, and continually international trade. Clearly, the world has historically become closer and increasingly connected due to the gravitational effects of our technology. Each advancement we call progress, and each major improvement, a technological wonder. So why do some people so vehemently oppose the connection and understanding between different peoples when those are the byproducts and results of our shared progress?
The devil is in the details, a phrase normally meant as a caution to avoid failure due to the specifics of a project, but what if the details are the devil. What if focusing on the minute differences are what keep us from seeing the bigger picture, and realizing that there’s not that much that separates us after all. Consider the children’s puzzles that ask you to spot the differences between two pictures, do you ever notice that the differences are always inconsequential, like the skin color of a person, the language they speak, or the invisible borders that separate them. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a puzzle if it asked to find the commonalities, but what would the world look like if we focused on our similarities instead of our differences?
What if we thought about what unites us rather than what divides us? Maybe we would approach problems differently, and try to find solutions based on what we both would like as an alternative to pursuing whichever scenario makes the other person most upset. A world that brought empathy to the fore front of interactions and relationships with the people in our lives would be drastically different. In many ways, most likely for the best. If everyone considered other people’s perspectives as important as their own, then grace and understanding would be far more prevalent. We all enjoy forgiveness when we mess up, so surely a society which accepts failure with an optimistic mindset would advance at a dramatic pace. Without the pressure of failure being permanent people would be willing to work worry free, or without any pressure would there even be any meaningful work at all.
The universe has never been fair, and the world has never been a collection of fairly operated societies that wanted the best for each other as much as for themselves. In this world, life repeats conflicts so that progress may be made through the work dedicated to solving those problems. A relationship with very little effort given from either or both sides will not be a strong relationship. Working to master a skill that took years to perfect, compared to something which is easily done, will provide varying levels of satisfaction for their completion. A cycle of conflict, resolution, and progression requires conflict, and based on the effort put into solving the conflict the greater the reward of alleviating the situation. Conflict is rewarding when we learn from it and it is essential for us to learn from our conflicts, otherwise we are only destined to repeat them.
To refrain from the vicious cycle of repeated conflicts between peoples it is important to learn from those conflicts by having a more open perspective about why other people believe what they believe. But without that conflict it is unlikely for people to properly learn about each other. Difference of opinion is not a bad thing, our varied perspectives are what make us so wonderful, but difference of respect for those who disagree with you will lead nowhere and without resolution there can be no learning from the conflict, only anger and repeated conflicts. Humans are attracted to each other by forces of social gravity, and there is no way to avoid the tension created from some of our social interactions. This is why it is so important to remember that at the end of the day the majority of all people have way more in common than the differences between themselves, and mutual respect about those differences is more likely to ensure resolution and progress through conflict than preconceived biases about our differences.