Human conviction reasons that change is continuous and that humankind is capable of understanding; an understanding rooted in context and conscience. Both these convictions are located within an inclusive historical process and when it interplays with one another, it is capable of churning an energy which is responsible for perpetually causing the development of humankind. Yet, this has not been the experience!
The idea that progression means moving from a lower to a higher state of being has been problematic in human history and is derived from an old Euro-centric view of life. It is marked by a dichotomy in the same way that it has been responsible for dividing humankind into two perceptual categories – the individual and the State, by negating all other forms of human life and human organization. The exclusive dualistic understanding of humankind is contrary to non-Euro worldview, but nevertheless they continue to languish from this legacy that came along with colonialism.
Indigenous experience suggests that the Euro-centric dualism is not rooted in their context and conscience and in essence pits humans in opposition to nature, and in effect, the survival of the strongest. Would it therefore be fair to say that Euro-centric understanding of humankind pits humans against nature in which only the strongest survive, is the idea behind its continued policy of aggression? Can one therefore conclude that as a result, change is no longer a continued process, but has resulted in inducing situations in which the interests of the strong prevails?
For instance, the call for democracy is applauded everywhere and yet when a particular nation democratically elects a government to represent their interests, it does cause anxiety to those spearheading the call for democracy. Recent indicators such as Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia and even the case of Hamas are examples where they have been democratically elected by the people and yet there are democratic countries that want to see their removal through undemocratic means. Is it yet another example where concepts of democracy are acceptable only when its suits the purpose of those at the helm of affairs, whether local or global?
Such faultline in human experience and empirical knowledge does raise the fundamental question, is the Euro-centric dualistic perception of humankind an erroneous illusion that has done more damage than good? This directly challenges the notion of progress which centers on materialistic progression in which the lower must succumb to make way for the higher. Appalling sacrifices have been made for such relentless materialistic progress, trampling over everything in its way and justifying all the sacrifices made in the name of progress, which is driven by the idea that only the strongest survive and hence the end justifies the means.
Subsequently, humankind is reduced to objects of history and systems that suppresses and denies the basic human worth and dignity of people are upheld and legitimized in the name of progress. Tragically, only those capable for producing and consuming are seen as potential resources for use, but if they show signs of resistance, they like those that challenge the status quo are seen as hindrance to materialistic progress and are alienated and marginalized in a sophisticated way. Ironically, these systems that perpetuate structural oppression and push people to the margins are what stand in the way of human development.
The race for material progression has been detrimental to the cause of human development and has had devastating consequences of indigenous people. It has caused instability by destroying the power of culture and creating in its place a culture of power that alienates people from their roots, causing despair and poverty. What kind of culture is it that seeks to undermine the richness of humanity that ignores understanding? At a time when conscience is replaced by arrogance and collective survival is reduced to a race for power, it is fair to say that the credibility and integrity of the modern culture is at stake, like never before. How then can it speak with authority for justice and peace?
Every culture, every nation, every people is responsible for what they have made familiar. The truth has been its most tragic casualty and everything else is seen and interpreted with its head and not its heart, making invisible all that it is does not wish to see around it. Eventually it limits understanding, thereby contradicting the human conviction that humans are capable of an understanding rooted in context and conscience. It reduces change as a continuous process to a series of disconnected events that is unable to offer a life giving pathway. In essence, rather than leading towards a positive and healthy direction of human development, it takes small insecure steps, afraid of its own shadow.
It has resulted in a disorientation that has usurped common sense and perhaps it is time to reflect and discern upon not just others culture, but also one’s own culture and honestly identify what the heart is saying. It is reassuring to know that when knowledge and wisdom listens intensely to the heart, it will reorient itself to the truth and upon discovering the realities, the human mind will be persuaded to do justice by finding purpose in creating an inclusive culture of respect and dignity through life-giving systems.