Sunday, February 13, 2005

Re-posting my thoughts triggered by listserve discussion on nationalism, globalization, and how to help the Philippines -- via educational materials dumped from the US?
Dear ....
Taking into consideration the differences in all of our positions regarding these recent topics, it occurs to me that the common denominator that we share is the frame and lens of Modernity by which we see the world.

Modernity - this time frame spans about 500 years - starts with the rise of the scientific and industrial revolutions (in the West) leading up to imperial adventures and conquest (and you know where that got us). If this were the only framework that we reference when we think of ourselves (in the past or present) and our place in the world, then it's tempting to buy into the idea that we must become modern. "Modern" has become akin to the desirability , even necessity, of western rationality, technological advancement, scientific progress, etc. That is why we talk about the linear progression of "dark ages" to "age of enlightenment" and the "fear of a new dark age."

But look around. There exists now a global body of knowledge that asserts that this is the great delusion of modernity and that it has already begun to show its cracks. The last empire standing (guess who!) is scrambling to hold on and will do all it can whatever means necessary.

In this modern perspective, what is often invisible and unheard is the groundswell of resistance from the South (of the North/South divide -- think globally now) and the East (of the East/West divide).

This movement consists of global decolonization movements, anti-corporate globalization movements (our very own Walden Bello being one of the folks on the forefront), survival strategies of resistance of indigenous peoples (yes, they're still here). Even within the U.S. there are subcultures and countercultural movements - ecological, feminist, voluntary simplicity movement to name a few -- who now discern that the dark shadow of modernity is catching up with our everyday lives. And still we delude ourselves that the solution is only one more innovative product to buy or one more progressive/modern idea away.

However, as this dark shadow looms, there is a little glimmer of light that comes from a very distant memory that says: once upon time, we were whole. Our psyches were not split, our sense of self intact. Everyone and everything was our relative. There was no Other.

So these days I often find myself imagining the world in different ways; reminding myself that Modernity is going to be a blip in the eternal (sunshine of the spotless mind:-)). I do this for the sake of appreciating interspecies diversity (cultural, biological, lingguistic, etc) and making sure that I do my part in making sure it survives and thrives. I do this by teaching my students how to recognize binary/dualistic thinking and helping them to understand that how we come to view Reality is often a product of social processes and struggles with power that are always place-based, born of particular locales and not usually meant to be abstracted and universalized into some program of full spectrum domination of the planet.

This way of seeing is not easy. I feel conflicted many times. I become aware of my complicity with the empire. But at least I have chosen positions that I can defend and live with.

All of your thoughtful insights helped me formulate this morning's ramblings and so I THANK YOU.

happy Sunday,

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