Tuesday, October 24, 2006

As the World Shrinks, It Gets Too Large

As the world shrinks, people come in contact with other nations, other cultures that they had been barely aware of. There is a limit as to how much change, how much of the unfamiliar people can assimilate in a given period of time. Education and material prosperity and security can raise this amount, but the limit is still there.
The Internet is changing and shrinking the world (or as Thomas Friedman puts it, flattening it) faster than people are comfortable with. Some of the symptoms of this are obsessive anti-immigrant sentiment in the 1st world, hatred of the West in Islamic nations, the rise of the Christian Right in the US.
What is needed is the capacity for a more conscious guiding of social development. Social development driven more by an overall vision that treats all people as important.
As it stands now, social development is unconscious. Much of it is good: the spread of education, increased capacity of ordinary people to understand the big picture, improved status and freedom for women and minorities, the shift of much of eastern Asia and now parts of India out of poverty and into modern prosperity. Some of it is not so good. In particular, the way that hyper-competitive globalization throws the "losers" onto the trash heap: much of rural China, 1st world blue collar workers, most of Africa, the Arab and other Islamic nations (except those people on the oil dole), much of Latin America, much of rural India.


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