Angst vor Veränderung
For some people an optimistic state of mind can be a tool for inspiration, and for others it may be a prelude for a crippling disappointment. A great number of people see our current world as horrid and dangerous. Fortunately for the youngest among us, they have little experience with just how bad the world and life was – just a short time ago. The philosophical doctrine proposed by Leibniz that “ours is the best of all possible worlds,” for some, this proposition may seem a bit fatalistic, with such a thought leaving one with very little to strive for, in reconciling the world with their desires.
Optimism may or may not carry the necessary resources to meet today’s worldly challenges. Fear, on the other hand, causes unpleasant feelings of apprehension. To be frightened could be a sign of the inability to cope with a changing world. Confidence is a kind of self-assurance in one’s ability to succeed and thrive in a changing world. The attitude of someone who feels positive and confident in the belief that life is continually improving, and that good will ultimately triumph over evil, could be simply a secondary result of the strength to embody courage. Courage is the ability to face uncertainty without being overcome by fear and dread. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.
Progress is a gradual development and improvement of our life and experiences over time. The trending development shows a trajectory towards Enlightenment. Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” Adorno said that enlightenment consisted of resisting the use of the word “as.” “As an Albanian, I cannot accept that …” or “As a Hindu, I must react in such-and-such a way.”
This thesis argues that the quality of human life is continually improving. Despite the always possibility of a cataclysmic event (like a sudden fascist uprising), a gradual improvement of the quality of human life is historically observable. For example: the quality of life for the ordinary person in modern day Europe is vastly superior to everyday life for the ordinary person during medieval times. A sociopolitical upheaval that causes great destruction can, as a secondary effect, bring about a fundamental change for the better, once a society has “progressed” past that crisis. Progress is not necessary easy or smooth.
Recent sociopolitical events have refocused nationalist anxieties on “otherness.” The resulting encounters and responses are testing humanity’s capacity for adaptation and resilience that allow very diverse people to live together with their differences. As a domestic view, all politics remain local. Within their subconscious „programs“ – most societies are somewhat hostile to the presence of foreigners. And in localities where foreign cultures are active, local cultures have to work harder to retain their distinction. Disorientation arises from the confrontations between cultures, languages, and lifestyles. The emergence of society within a process of perpetual confrontation with otherness has the responsibility to address this collective transformation.
Centuries of hard slog and innovation have kept humanity moving forward. According to conventional wisdom, we will all become more global within our cultural pedigrees. Global idiosyncrasies are evolving a world that is radically different from that faced by Western cultures in their provincial days – before their global expansion through colonial incursion. Globalization in its every form is changing all the rules for living in contemporary society. Local cultures are transcending their provincial status within global modernization. In our shrinking world, brought on by economic globalization and human migration, local cultures face competition from global idiosyncrasies imposing customs on locals, whose tastes become in turn more global. Becoming global is difficult, aspects of which may seem impossible to assimilate.
Globalization involves the disposal of peripheral values in order to concentrate resources. The major task consists of prodding local cultures to overcome their provincialism, in order to save them from obsolescence. In most economies it is impossible to be competitive without being active worldwide. Insularity is costly. The drive to create a more multinational consciousness in order to increase a local culture’s global economic clout – is trending.
Why do so many people fear globalization? Globalization does not mean people will lose their native culture or language. It basically means that they are more likely to become multicultural and multilingual, and to appreciate “other” cultures and peoples. Metathesiophobes often feel that they have lost control over their lives. The fear is that one’s culture will be overwhelmed, but culture rarely dies out completely like the hardcore xenophobes say it will.
The task is to engage change in the realm of rational discussion, with confidence, and not restrict it to some metaphysical realm of fear. This thesis argues that humanity’s trajectory, however arduous, is towards Enlightenment.
Foto: Hans Martin Sewcz, 1975