The cathedrals of civilizations have been built by superhuman labors of creative minds of all times through reason, science, religion and tradition. Transcendence of any one of these whenever it starts cramping the creativity and questing spirit of man results in critical breakthroughs liberating the human mind caught in a bind. Constant dialogue and continuous questioning releases the forces of change and thus propels the world afresh on the rails of progress.
Samuel Huntington has propounded the 'clash of civilization thesis' for which there are quite a few takers on both sides of the political divide. As an indication of it, Huntington sees the rise of neo fundamentalist movements and describes them as the new movers and shakers. He looks upon them as locomotives of far-reaching changes in the world. However, his thesis founded as it is on several erroneous assumptions is flawed in many respects. First is that he identifies civilizations with nation-states and religious traditions. Also he considers neo-fundamentalist movements and organized terror the new global actors on the theatre of history.
The 'clash of civilization thesis' is suspicious of man's capacity to reason and innovate so as to finding a way out of any impasse. It is suspicious of man's infinite creative potential and negates his capacity to adapt and adjust to the changed environment. Huntington ignores the fact that civilizations are not static entities but ever in a state of flux, constantly evolving like other living and evolving organisms.
The binary logic tends to divide the world from the viewer's perspective as 'we' and 'they'. This is the root cause of all clashes and contentions. The fear of the other is 'the black godmother' of all conflicts and wars. This fear is engendered by the ignorance of the 'other'. Then comes into play the processes of forging alliances, coalitions, ethnic and religious groupings to confront the adversary perceived as the 'other'. Blinded by deep-seated prejudice and hate we fail to see the harmonizing threads that bind human beings belonging to various nation states, races, religions, cultures and civilization. Another contributory cause is that we fail to perceive the shared concerns and values which are always at work in each ones ground of being which is one for all mankind. We refuse to see that civilizations nurtured in exclusivism and privatized inwardness only yield hot-house plants of alien stock and stunted growth. They hardly yield spring-eyed blooms from the nature's bounteous garden which is full of diversity and variety of forms and colors. Nor do they permit clones of their original selves to be fashioned by man's ingenuity.
Dialogue is best fitted to unravel the commonality of human concerns and endeavors. Constant interaction and dialogue can enable us to weave strange and familiar strands of diverse cultures and civilizations into mosaic of a global civilization taking shape following the communication revolution. Dialogue is the surest way to transform the myriad discords into harmony of living 'an art which each one of us can learn to contribute to the common wellbeing.
Dialogue creates the congenial climate of understanding and reconciliation, consensus and accommodation. It softens all sharp angularities and rough edges. As against this confrontation leads to civil strife and war. It causes colossal death and destruction of vast masses of mankind. Dialogue brings out the most often forgotten truth that in life there are far more threads that unite than those that divide. No man or a civilization is an island but a current in the ocean of mankind. Bound by fraternal bonds all human beings are sharers in one common indivisible destiny. Poverty, illiteracy, political violence, pollution, the danger of thermo-nuclear confrontation etc. are some of the obvious enemies of mankind. These problems are not peculiar to any one particular civilization but transcending cultural and national frontiers they affect every one.
If Indian civilization could survive the onslaughts of marauders of alien stock, it was because of its innate capacity for creative dialogue, its sense of tolerance, cultural pluralism and diversity in unity. After every encounter with an exogamous force or entity it was able to engage it in a dialogue and resultantly what came out of it was an amalgam containing the best of the both. The outcome was invariably a mosaic, a composite culture, a harmonic union in the ocean of its vast civilizational humanity.
Today when mankind is confronted with a grim scenario involving clashes of national self interest, religious fundamentalisms rooted in dogma and ignorance, ethnic and racial prejudices, dialogue can be a well trusted means of laying the groundwork of a new world order in which the least developed and most disadvantaged among the peoples can have an effective voice. Dialogue holds the prospect of converting confrontation to cooperation, depleting environment to sustainable environment, sectarian clashes to harmonic co-existence, fratricidal strife to fratricidal harmony.
Dialogue promotes civic culture, social capital, democratic freedoms, human rights and social justice. It fosters peaceful living among people belonging to different religions, belief systems, cultures, races and civilizations. Dialogue holds fast to the human dimension and reinforces the humane values of civilization. It inculcates rational scientific temper and contributes to creativity, adventure of ideas, respect for dissent and diversity, values of democracy, humanism, peace, understanding, adjustment and a sense of human brotherhood.
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