Chronicle of the Month – October 2007

Posted in: Chronicles

It Matters These Days Whose Ox Is Gored!
by Moses Valentine Chukwujekwu

moses2 The world is increasingly becoming one global village. More than ever the issue of international co-operation, mutual respect and understanding is discussed in all ambits of the human society. Writes John Paul II: “We live in a world that is increasingly interdependent, the destinies and problems of the different regions are linked together”(1). Or just as F. Silota puts it: “There is a deep craving today for a new world order, an order which guarantees peaceful and harmonious co-existence among humankind of all colours, cultures, beliefs, languages and nations”(2). The new slogan, explicitly or implicitly, has become “though many, we are one”. This has inevitably called for the scrutiny of the fundamentals of human society and life, and the results yielded so far have shown the undeniable differences that constitute the beehive and “unconquerable reserve” of peoples.

In Europe, for example, the fall of the Berlin wall, the dissolution of the USSR and the crisis in the Balkan states are great termini a quo for the recall to mind of the fact that ethnico-cultural differences could not be swept under the carpet for eternity.

In these recent times, therefore, human society is thus being awakened to the recognition and appreciation of the different cultural heritage of peoples. Affirm M. Abdallah-Pretceille and L. Porcher a propos : “The issues concerning interculturality have become so sharp. They weave together our identity, that which we feel in us and that which is conferred upon us from the outside (the two being strongly linked). It is no more possible today to make oneself blind towards multiple cultures and yet powerfully identified. Interculturality has imposed itself not as a response (that would be dogmatism) but as an interrogation present everywhere and every moment. Interculturality is hence our life….”(3)

The present day good-news is that instead of suppressing or subsuming these cultures into one single whole (the American melting pot theory or the French assimilation policy), – what people with wrong concept of globalisation think the world should be directed to become – efforts have been geared toward their study, elucidation and comprehension, such that their distinctive “earmarks” could be deciphered, appreciated and promoted. Thus, making the words of R. Nolan that “we have to deal with differences directly; instead of at a distance”(4) hold true.

Unfortunately, – this is a bit demoralising – in spite of these laudable efforts hitherto made by the human society towards mutual co-operation, understanding and respect, the bringing to the fore of the fundamental socio-cultural differences of peoples has, in no small measure, ignited the fragmentation of the world, engendering quasi irresistible calls for cultural autonomy and all it entails. F. Silota, in this regard, laments that the “gulf among peoples of different nationalities and cultures keeps widening day by day. The more conferences are held on partnership, co-operation and solidarity, the further we are from the new world order of equality, unity and justice”(5). This, inevitably, has led to the severing of relationship and increasing conflicting tendencies among the peoples of the world. The situation is thus paradoxical and a nut very hard to crack.

It goes therefore without saying that the “re-discovery” of or rather the recent “commitment” to multiculturalism or interculturality, without any doubt, has become a “gain” of the human society, but all the same it has engendered among many peoples, in many domains and in many parts of the world also the “undoing of the societal harmony”. Why all these? What do these call to mind? How can one explain the situation? The reason appears not to be evident, but it is really not far-fetched.

We resume in parabolic terms the situation: Some people are ready to eat omelettes but they are not ready to crack eggs. Some others are ready to cracks eggs but not to make omelettes out of them. Some others still are ready neither to crack eggs nor to make omelettes. But in our view, we believe that for there to be a realistic and sustainable appreciation of multiculturality, all must be ready to break eggs: eggs of cultural “clonism”; eggs of cultural rigidity; eggs of perceived cultural superiority; eggs of past historical errors of domination and imperialism; eggs of religio-cultural fanaticism; eggs of colour difference; eggs of historical prejudices; eggs of economic-political hegemony etc, and from these eggs together peoples and cultures of the world would make omelettes of mutual respect, mutual consideration, mutual cooperation, mutual understanding, because the events of recent times make it point clear that it matters now more that ever whose ox is gored. Imperialism has no place in the world today! No person, no matter how small he is, no matter how insignificant he appears to be, should be taken for granted.
*Moses Valentine CHUKWUJEKWU writes from Vernate (TI), Switzerland. He holds a Masters Degree in Intercultural Communication (MIC) from the University of Lugano, Switzerland..

1. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa, n. 114.
2. F. SILOTA, Talk on the occasion of the Symposium CCEE-SECAM, Rome, November 10-13, 2004.
3. M. ABDALLAH-PRETCEILLE – L. PORCHER (1999), Diagonales de la Communication Interculturelle, 3-4.
4. R. NOLAN (1999), Communicating and Adapting Across Cultures: Living and Working in the Global Village, 1.
5. F. SILOTA, ibid.

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