Invitation to a Dialogue: Globalizing Wisely-MAY 27, 2014
To the Editor:
We hear much talk about globalization, but what — really — is it?
For the first time in history, it’s possible for everyone to know everything happening everywhere.
We are forging an awareness of our existence as a single entity. Nations are incorporating technology into the fabric of their economics, politics, culture and international relations. Because of our global information system, people of different psychological and cultural orientations — whether Silicon Valley computer genius or member of an Amazon tribe — are forced into a shared globalized context.
Globalization is the gradual process of the world shrinking as people of different nations, cultures and religions know more about one another. Western ideas and modes of living are seeping into the fabric of the world. The American baseball cap is now worn from Tahiti to Timbuktu. McDonald’s is ubiquitous.
Everyone on earth is forced to adjust to information technology. No nation can modernize without becoming part of the global information system. Existing cultures, traditions and institutions thus become threatened, even disappearing.
While we Americans believe that what works for America will work for all nations, we sometimes forget that cultural differences represent profound psychological differences. The critical question for all nations is, “How can we engage globalization without losing our traditions?” For traditions are our links with the past. How do our traditions become integrated into some new worldview?
At its core, globalization is not about communications technology; it’s about personal identity. It goes to the psychological foundations of a people. It is the process of realizing that wherever we come from, from now on, we are “one people” with one destiny.
This is the greatest transition in world history. If pursued wisely and cooperatively, globalization represents the world’s best chance to enrich the lives of the greatest number of people.
WILLIAM V. WISHARD
Lake Ridge, Va., May 27, 2014
The writer is a former trends analyst and author of “Between Two Ages: The 21st Century and the Crisis of Meaning.”
Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond briefly by Thursday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and a rejoinder in the Sunday Review. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org