Saturday, February 15, 2003

Some Elements in Reconciliation

Clash, and conflict derive from usually unexamined core or foundational differences, combined with myopia. Not "getting along" comes from the inability to imagine that any way of doing things which differs from my own A. can be a good way of doing things, and B. be done with integrity.

Ways of doing things are not merely personal. On a deeper level they reflect cultures. Cultures in turn grow out of worldviews. (Most worldviews grow out of religions, except for the small few that grow out of religiously held anti-religions).

Meta-religious (cultural) difference includes the Oriental/Occidental rift, the the sacred-whole/post-enlightment-atomistic-rationalism split, as well as the democratic/monarchic split.

The Oriental worldview is often considered "vertical culture." Position dominates, the status of elders signifies "more true," and "more correct." The occidental worldview is often characterized as "horizontal." It tends to be more merit based, and breaking molds is often more prized than preserving the eternal "original superiority" emboddied in the elder. It can be said that in oriental mentality postion trumps person. In the West person trumps position. The split between the "monarchical" worldview and the "democratic" one, parallels the Oriental/Occidental worldviews.

I had presumed these categories to comprise the major divisions in world view. I considered East and West to be the main and final line of cultural division. The largest categories; the spectrum within which all others fall.

A friend however introduced poles of a culture conflicts that never crossed my mind. It was presented as a clash between the dialogical and communal qualities the essentially Jewish culture, and the conscience based subjective certitude of the Protestant experience.

These sorts of culture-rooted differences are antecedent to efforts at reconciliation. They inform the respective partners in ways that confound communication at interior levels beneath consciousness.

Mediation and resolution requires that players become able to live inside worldview of the other to the extend that that view alien to the self is recognized as one which can be held with integrity, and and seen as viable. The position of the other must be recognized as not inferior by definition.

Friday, February 14, 2003

The Night Before Blix

From among the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Belgium, Iraq, the United Nations and Al Qaeda, the one which is most contemporary, most avant garde is Al Qaeda. The second is the United Nations. It is possible that the US is the highest minded from among the group listed, but unfortunately there are enough inconsistencies in the overall collection of US positions internationally, to create at least to some eyes "the appearance of impropriety." The case of the US sadly is NOT "cut and dried," "beyond a shadow of a doubt." This is most unfortunate, and it is in fact the preeminent matter about which the US should be concerned. More concerned in fact than the rise and fall of terror alerts. If anything should happen to cement suspicion of the America's goodness (to the neutral observer), the future of the world will be badly damaged. This is what the US risks with its currents threats of unilateralism.

At least as problematic as the risk of the US squandering its reputation as good, is the fact that the US has shown itself to be dull-witted, flat-footed, uninspired, and behind the times in its wasteful floundering about since 9-11. The age of the big army is obsolete. With the rules re-defined by the 9-11 attacks, and the incessant terror of the intifada, the lesson to be learned is that brute power is a waste of human and material resources. Martyrs and Tyrants are unthreatenable. Once they don't mind themselves and their people dying you might as well put your army away. The billions of dollars spent in fireworks over Afghanistan, and the billions more hovering around the Gulf should be spent on intelligence (for the sake of security), improving the societies of allies and neutral countries in need, and in dissolving the hatred of our enemies.

Of the powers listed above, only the United Nations and Al Qaeda intuit the nature of the world to come. The remaining powers including the United States (in its current behavior) are stuck in a dated and outmoded concept of international relations. The powers which intuit a future world transcending the passe dynamics of the nation state are the one's defining the war, and ultimately pointing to a new future.