However, all Asian cultures have gradually found out during the last two hundred years that—unlike the European Christendom or the traditional West—the modern West finds it difficult to coexist with other cultures. It may have a well-developed language of coexistence and tolerance and well-honed tools for conversing with other civilisations. It may even have the cognitive riches to study, understand or decode the non-West. But, culturally, it has an exceeding poor capacity to live with strangers. It has to try to either overwhelm or proselytise them. Is this a trait derived from the urban-industrial vision and global capitalism which, not satiated even after winning over every major country in the world, have to penetrate the smallest of villages and the most private areas of our personal lives? Is it a contribution of the ideologues of development, who after all their successes, still feel defeated if some remote community somewhere does not fall in line or some eccentric individual attacks them? I do not know, but I do find that even most dissenting westerners, who have genuinely identified with the colonised societies and fought for their cause, sometimes at some personal cost, have usually supported the `right’ causes without any empathy with native categories or languages of dissent, without even a semblance of respect for the indigenous modes of resistance, philosophical or practical. It will not too uncharitable to say that they, too, have struggled to retain the capital of dissent in the West and to remain flamboyant spokespersons of the oppressed of the world-whether the oppressed are the proverbial proletariat or the not-so-proverbial women, working children or victims of environmental depredations. Even decolonisation demands western texts and academic leadership, they believe. And many Asians, especially the expatriate Asians in the first world, enthusiastically agree.
“… the modern West finds it difficult to coexist with other cultures.”
Nicely put. Some folks just call us “arrogant bastards”.
“…It has to try to either overwhelm or proselytise them.”
Just to clarify – It’s the Christians who try to proselytize; because of the Great Commission. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” The intent is not overwhelm but rather enlighten, transform and renew the mind, reconcile and reestablish man’s relationship with his Maker - because at one time we were on speaking terms with The Man. (The reader may not agree with that, but that is the objective of The Way.)
Christianity actually started in the Middle East, from Jerusalem. It is not a religion limited or restricted by boundaries – so east, west, north, south does not really apply.
“…dissenting westerners, who have genuinely identified with the colonised societies”
The “dissenting westerners” and faithful practicing Christians (no matter what nationality they may happen to be or what part of the world they were born or raised in) – when applying the Golden Rule - are both on the same page. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them …” Everybody should be able to identify with the fact that we are all the human race.THE SAME HUMAN RACE!
“… dissenting westerners, who have genuinely identified with the colonised societies and fought for their cause, … have usually supported the `right’ causes without any empathy with native categories or languages of dissent, …”
Yes. EXACTLY. Because the “dissenting westerners” had/have come to realize that Christian principles are not limited, they are universal and can work for all mankind. Although the “dissenting westerners” may just call it a “matter of principles” and leave off the Christian part.
FYI. Christians and “Westerners” are not equal, synonymous or interchangeable terms or labels. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the first gospel sermon was preached on the day of Pentecost from Jerusalem, and the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
The only “cause” Christians die for is the cause of Christianity. If in the process of dying for that cause, they were also defending the rights of others or taking a stand against an injustice, etc., they consider that their “personal cost” is nothing compared to what Jesus Christ endured.
Male rites of passage are common in cultures all over the world. Although different in shape and form, a common denominator is often that these rites comprise either pain, danger or the threat of isolation. Among the Shan people of Burma and northern Thailand, this could, however, not be further from the truth.
When boys of the Shan tribe undergo the ritual “Poi Sang Long”, the focus lies on what in the Western world would be described as “feminine values”. They are dressed up in bright colours and adorned with make-up. The aim is to mimic the young Prince Siddhartha before he became Lord Buddha. Even though the purpose of the ritual is to show that the boys are ready to become mature and responsible men, it is loaded with aesthetic values and free from any physical trials. This is what sets it apart from other typical male rituals – and Bamberg’s portraits question the cultural and societal constructs of gendered norms.
The entire series, Flowers, is absolutely stunning. Check out the rest of the series here.
India, Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Madras) Armlet with Krishna Dancing Triumphantly on the Serpent King, Kaliya, circa 1850-1900
This outstanding gold armlet epitomizes a traditional type of ornamental armlet (vanki) worn by Hindu women on their upper arms. The design program consists of various figures, flora and fauna drawn from the rich artistic repertoire of Indian art and culture. The central image on the front depicts the Hindu god Krishna dancing triumphantly on Kaliya, a serpent king who had terrorized the countryside before being vanquished by Krishna and converted to his worship. Krishna and Kaliya are flanked by attendant women waving honorific fly-whisks symbolic of Krishna’s divine status. Additional figures set within the lace-like jungle of floral motifs include a kirtimukha (face of glory) paired with peacocks at the top of the armlet and, along its sides, winged griffins, elephants, tigers, and rearing lions.