Youth, Culture and Globalization
An increasingly globalized, volatile and a growth-oriented world present its citizens numerous challenges – be it in economic, social, environmental and indeed cultural spheres.
As the global economy steams ahead in full speed, geographical borders are becoming less and less significant as people move around, migrating into cities and countries in search of better opportunities and better lives.
Business corporations in both the East and the West are interchanging knowledge and capital in a mutually beneficial exercise. To succeed in this increasingly border-less world one needs to go beyond the familiar and the uniform and embrace the unfamiliar and the diverse, one must tolerate and accept different customs, behaviors, languages, attitudes and values. In other words, one must embrace multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism, however, isn’t simply just good business, but rather something that contributes a great deal in transforming modern day conflicts in the world and indeed here, in Sri Lanka. Roots of most conflicts or at least lack of progress in resolving them, has a lot to do with lack of understanding and lack of space for a different cultures and identities, which leads to marginalization and discontent which sometimes results in violent aggression and cycles of hatred. It is clear then, that multiculturalism is no longer simply a nicety but rather, a dire necessity in the times we live in.
Despite what seems like a commercial drive towards greater understanding of cultures, the raging conflicts of the world are evidence enough that not enough cultural dialogue takes place, Multiculturalism doesn’t mean homogeneity nor does it mean segmented societies tolerating different cultures because they have no choice. To create sustainable and more fruitful intercultural relationships one must make a genuine effort not only to tolerate but to understand, nurture and foster cross cultural interaction and understanding.
People are in their own ways always different from one another, they have their own identity derived from their cultural backgrounds and their personal value systems, but also it’s important to understand that people do have a great deal in common. Every person at a fundamental level needs more or less the same things, like acceptance, respect, love, security, peace and generally- a good life. The differences – and there may be many – is what makes this world a vibrant and creative place to live in.
Too often though, closed minds and open mouths get in the way of building more cohesive communities. Young people in this regard have a special role to play, it is they who have most at stake, it is they who will inherit the problems created today and yesterday and therefore young people have a right, not just a responsibility to have a significant say in what goes on in their countries, communities and indeed the world. Young people should not only aspire to be the leaders of tomorrow but they should also be ready to be the change-makers of today.
All over the world young people tend to idealistic, enthusiastic and passionate on many things, be it against poverty, racism, brutality, war, and AIDS. To harness the power of global youth voices pertaining to the issues that really matter, one needs to go past the arbitrary wars between cultures, young people can and should come forward in harnessing the power of multicultural exchange so that things would be different when they grow up to be the leaders, policymakers and movers of the world. This I believe is the most sustainable path for continued multicultural exchange, community cohesion and ultimately continued development.
An essay i wrote for Yatra