The end of a year is a time to reflect. To reflect on the things you have done in the past year or years and things you have not yet accomplished. We all reflect back, whether this nostalgia is good or bad is up to the individual. This past year has seen a number of changes. We Americans have elected our first Black president. In a more centric aspect I have changed my life immensely. First I changed my major from Biology to Anthropology. Then I moved away from the town that I have lived in for my entire life, to start anew in a new town and at a new school. With the start of new school come new requirements for graduation, at my former university I had completed all the General Education that I needed for graduation. However I was disheartened to discover that although the classes and units themselves transferred the G.E. requirement did not.
At this point I guess you are wondering why I’m talking about G.E. requirements and all this life changing stuff. Well the G.E. theme that I chose is the Cross-Cultural theme. Apart of this theme is the Multi-Cultural Literature class that I have been writing all these blogs for over the past few months. As the semester winds down and the end approaches very quickly, we have come to our final blog. Over the past few weeks we have been discussing globalization, specifically Franklin Foer’s book How Soccer Explains the World. But I wonder how this book relates to the other books we have read through out this semester and to the bigger picture as well. Can globalization help us to better understand people from other nations; can knowing their stories help us to better understand ourselves?
America has learned a lot and has a lot to learn from the rest of the world. We are not unique and our ideas are not new. Globalism is shrinking our world, any day of the week one can simply purchase a plane ticket and fly to any part of the world you wish to visit. You can see the local sites, taste the local cuisine and engage in any number of other activities. Above all you get to know other people and their culture and they get to know you. This concept is exceptionally portrayed in Perry Garfinkel’s book Buddha or Bust. This author although American goes on an international journey to visit all the important Buddhist sights. He and many who have also gone on similar journeys to other countries are affected by the things they see and the people that they meet. This gives them a feeling of being included in the bigger picture, part of a globalcommunity.
In every country that Garfinkel visits he sees a different way of practicing Buddhism. That’s not to say that one way is better than another, but the fact that it came from one origin and has spread to so many different countries and incorporated itself into their traditions shows that maybe Buddhism was an early form of globalization. The sharing of ideas and the learning of different ways of thinking can benefit a society in ways it could have never imagined. We Americans can sometimes think we are better than the rest of the world that some how our way is the best and will continue to be the best. However many Americans are now starting to follow Buddhism and they see the benefits of this more peaceful way of thinking.
I fell strongly that America as well as the rest of the world would benefit from learning the ways of Ubuntu, (my humanity is strengthened by embracing your humanity). This concept is the basis for the book A Human Being Died that Night by Pumla Gobodo-Msdikizela. This telling of the process of reconciliation that South Africa went through after the end of apartheid is inspiring. It should give us all hope that even the most evil deeds committed by the most evil people has the possibility of being put behind us, so that we may move forward. I wish that South Africa had learned from America the pitfalls of a separated society, so that the people who died and suffered wouldn’t have had to do so for so long. So that men like Eugene de Kock wouldn’t have been forced to make the decision whether or not to become a killer for their country. I wish that the global society could havedone something to help them long before the 1990s.
As our world gets smaller in the access we have to people and things from around the world at our fingertips, we must also learn from their mistakes and accomplishments. The human species is not perfect in any way. But we should also not turn a blind eye to the atrocities that go on in our neighboring countries. We as human beings are constantly trying to evolve to be a better version of our selves. If we cannot learn from our mistakes and those of others than we can never move forward. We will stagnate in our never ending quest to be the best that we can be.
In the final chapter of How Soccer Explains the World Foer delves into the notion that the split in American feeling about soccer also explains the spilt in the attitudes about globalization. “One camp believes in the essential tenets of the globalization religion as preached by European politicians, that notional governments should defer to institutions like the UN and WTO” (Foer 245). “On the other side, there is a group that believes in ‘American exceptionalism,’ an idea that America’s history and singular form of government has given the nation a unique role to play in the world; that the U.S. should be above submitting to international laws and bodies” (Foer 234).
I am not here to say which side is better. I believe that America has a lot to offer the rest of the world but also that the rest of the world has a lot to offer America. We as a species need to see that we are all one people that national boundaries while important are also arbitrary. Until we learn that we are really all the same there will always be wars and people will always be in conflict with each other over philosophical differences. In the end we just all need to learn how to get along and figure out bigger global issues like the environment rather than bicker about petty differences. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from How Soccer Explains the World it shows the absurdity of some peoples way of thinking, how can a sport threaten a way of life?
“People with actual power believe that soccer represents a genuine threat to the American way of life.”
List of the Books we Read This Semester
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