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Towards a Common Intercultural Civilization

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By Hugo Novotny* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN) - The US, Japan and the European Union nations are gradually losing their dominant positions in the world. At the same time, powerful countries like Brazil, India and China do not try to impose their political and cultural values on less developed countries, but rather they intend to base their relations on a mutually beneficial cooperation.

Thus, the new system of international relations taking shape due to the growth of Asian, Latin American and African nations is erasing the fragile dependency and colonial servility inherited from the history of the last few centuries by means of the power of common agreements and convergence of interests. There is hope that this will turn the current global crisis into a true opportunity for positive global change.

For international affairs, the new paradigm that is been configured could be defined as the power of agreement, reciprocity and convergence in diversity as opposed to the failure of hegemonies and homogenization. The success of this model depends on whether the participants in the game seek to impose their will – economically or culturally – on others.

But the global crisis we are going through requires a deep change in the model of growth. Asia, Africa and Latin America could not follow the path trod by the US and the EU, with its promotion of false freedoms at the cost of social fractures, consumption for all, indebtedness for the majority but accumulation by only a few.

A radically different vision must be defined. In other words, the global change crisis must generate an entire new social paradigm in which the idea of development does not only mean economic growth as it is the case nowadays from the standpoint of central powers, but also includes the integral growth of all human beings grounded on the essential understanding that “progress for a few ends up being progress for nobody” (Silo, 2004).

On the Latin American continent, the rise to power of Evo Morales as Bolivia´s first president of native origins marked a watershed in the history of the Americas, a sure signal of new times beginning for the whole continent. The creation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC) demonstrates a resolution to move towards a real integration of the continent, and points to the decisive departure of Latin America from the orbit of the political, economic and military influence of the USA.

In our opinion, this phenomenon is closely related to the spiritual renewal of native cultures all through Latin America, reaching particular strength in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico; although in the latter country, this process is developing in open confrontation with the government and US interests in the region. In the case of Brazil, we can appreciate also the renewal of a highly diverse native spirituality with Afro-American roots, yet suffering persecution by the Christian churches, which are deeply engaged with the important economic and media powers of the country.

Crucible of cultures

This crucible of cultures is immersed in a common spiritual atmosphere, in a sensibility that highly values the bond with the ground (the PachaMama), an ecologically harmonious and reciprocal coexistence between human beings and nature; a convergence in the diversity of cultures (inter-culturalism); the right of ethnic and social communities to their self-determination; the public and qualified health and education for everybody with an inter-cultural approach; and the integrality of body, soul and spirit for the Well Living (Suma Qamaña – Buen Vivir) of individuals and communities.

We find a strong resonance between this Latin American sensibility and Asia’s millennium cultures and spiritualities. Particularly with those spiritual currents that developed great philosophical schools and highly inspiring mystical practices, like the multiple branches of Shivaism, Buddhism and Taoism. Schools that also promoted a harmonious and reciprocal coexistence between human beings and nature; the wholeness of body, soul and spirit for the well-being and self-development of each one; and access to the experience of the Absolute. Schools that have been spread throughout the ages in all of the Asian continent and beyond, and nowadays are renewing and attempting to open new ways in the critical transition of the XXI century towards a new evolutionary spiral of human being.

Rich and mightily diverse cultural traditions in Africa, cradle of humankind, are also called to be relevant to overcome the global crisis, contributing to the necessary transition process with progressive elements that will be a basis for the next evolutionary stage. It’s the case of the concept – the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity – as well as many other components of the African ancestral sensibility.

At this point, the world community should realize that the expansion of one country or culture at the expense of the others must come to an end. Horizontal expansion will not work any more. We should take the vertical way – to develop the space and ocean depths through joint efforts towards common benefits. And only using the same approach, instead of competition, can we solve the problems of poverty, starvation, illnesses, and provide the peoples of the world healthcare and education for all at a worthy level.

This root envisages not only new international agreements concentrated on disarmament but a real change of mentality from the habitual philosophy of violence and confrontation, to a new culture of nonviolence; from the “clash of civilizations” concept to the dialogue of civilizations, to the unity in diversity of cultures and interests.

One more question specially deserves our attention. As soon as the human being went outside the limits of the Earth and saw ‘with own eyes’ our fragile world as if wandering among billions of stars and galaxies, there was an awakening to the vision that there are no real frontiers separating people; feeling, deeply in the heart, an ineffable love toward human life and to every creature existing in the Universe. This feeling we see is capable of inspiring people to move toward a real change of worldview and behaviour, with deep changes going toward the humanization of the Earth (The Overview Effect).

In the same sense, human conscience is at this very moment striving to get rid of the corset of linear temporality and is discovering simultaneity, resonance, synchrony, new laws and phenomena of nonlinear complex systems and quantum physics which are radically modifying the way of structuring reality.

It is fundamental to think about the consequences of the human conscience breaking free from the ties imposed by the natural, spatial and temporal determinations of its physical prosthesis. We are not talking only about the experience of living in weightlessness, or some undeniable and subtle technological accomplishments such as virtual reality or telepresence. We are talking also about the real possibility that, in a brave and intentional act, the human conscience would decide to break with its internal contradictions, to yield its heart to love and compassion towards all living creatures and fly… so as to gain enough inner unity allowing projection of itself beyond the body and time.

A new spirituality

In our opinion, this is a new spirituality that would be able to include in a kind way the most progressive of the extremely diverse cultures and traditions worldwide, without limiting, but highlighting the identity of each such nation; a spirituality that, at the same time, includes the technological language and the experiences of a human being flying across cosmic space, that appears as the most fitting incubator of the new human civilization. Unrestricted access to the experience of the Profound, contact with the fountain of the Sacred from the interiority of everyone without intermediation; and the possibility of sharing this fundamental experience among people belonging to different cultures and confessions, as meaningful elements for the spirituality of a new human nation worldwide.

Latin American (Argentine) philosopher and writer Silo (Mario Rodríguez Cobos, 1938-2010), founder of the current of thought termed Universalistic Humanism, tells in his Message about the need of a spirituality where “the non-meaning of life can be converted into meaning and fulfillment” for everyone without external limitations or conditions; a spirituality that emphasizes “joy, love of the body, of nature, of humanity, and of the spirit”, where “the worldly is not opposed to the eternal”. Silo’s Message tells about the possibility of “the inner revelation at which all arrive who carefully meditate in humble search” and shows how to forge “mastering the Force in order to achieve unity and continuity” beyond physical existence; it tells about the essential priority to “learn to surpass pain and suffering in yourself, in those close to you, and in human society”, to “learn to resist the violence that is within you and outside of you”, to “learn to recognize the signs of the sacred within you and around you”. Silo suggests: “do not imagine that you are alone in your village, in your city, on the Earth, or among the infinite worlds”, “do not imagine that you are enchained to this time and this space”.

The fully interconnected world where we are living today makes possible and necessary that we move towards a common intercultural civilization. Horizontal and reciprocal interaction between cultures and nations, non-violent methods of social transformation, and real participation of people when making key socio-political decisions will allow the integration of the diverse communities as an avant-garde of the human nation in development. In our vision, the previously mentioned experience of the Profound is really capable of opening a new spiritual horizon, indispensable for the realization of this paradigm.

*Hugo Novotny of Argentina represents the Universalistic Humanism school of thought. This is the text of his address at ‘The India International Centre’, New Delhi, at an event titled ’The Relevance of Traditional Cultures for the Present and the Future’ on March 24-26, 2014. The author can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . [IDN-InDepthNews – April 26, 2014]

Photo credit: Pressenza IPA

2014 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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