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The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations Essay

Religion is one of the ideologies that greatly influenced the co-existence of every civilization that existed and continue to exist. It has become the foundation of the existence of almost every man, replacing the ideologies of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other Greek and Roman philosophers before the rise of religion. The differences in the beliefs or thoughts of every religion have had global effects on how civilizations, or nation-states, interact with one another. Commonly, conflicts would arise due to these differences in ideologies and beliefs.

Solutions to these conflicts could be best formulated by first looking at the advances in technology through thousands of years its evolution. One of these advances is in communication. It all started with the birth of writing which is simultaneous with the birth of the first civilization in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The Mesopotamian’s creation of cuneiform: the earliest known written scriptures, to Egypt’s hieroglyphics, led to the creation of a particular kind of consciousness called cosmological imagination, and revolution.

Second is the birth of alphabet, which greatly affected the Judaism in its early existence. Its foundation in Sinai desert, now known as Southern Israel, is also simultaneous with the age of Patriarchs and the Israeli slaves. This advance in communication created monotheism and led to the global transformation called Axial Age. Third is the invention of printing. This next step affected Christianity and led to the spread of reformation and revolution, the language and the concept of the individual. Last of these advances in communication is the most important of them all, the internet.

E-mail, social networking, wireless gadgets and simultaneous global communication- these are some of the effects of the internet. It also affected Islam, as writing and the alphabet affected Judaism and Christianity, respectively. The conceptual foundations of Islam are presently laid in Iraq- the place where it all began. The wars of today are not the wars of the past. War used to mean something that took place between certain groups of people in a place called a battleground within agreed conventions.

Religion is at the very heart of every conflict nowadays. Every killing, suicide bombings and terror attacks-accompanied by written messages or videos, are the language of the leaders of Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. People have been searching for the right solution to these problems. All conflicts relate to religion. Thus, there is a need for a religious revolution and can all be solved by looking at the narratives of the bible. First is the narrative about the brothers Isaac and Ishmael, sons of Abraham; and brothers Jacob and Issau, sons of Isaac.

The story shows the younger of the two, Isaac and Jacob, as the chosen ones to lead his people and continue the covenant. It can be related to the ideology of Christianity chosen over Judaism, and Islam over Christianity. This ideology of whose chosen should be put to a stop to put an end to the conflicts. Second, going back to the story of the brothers, the emotional aspects can be profoundly analyzed. The sympathy should be with Isaac and Issau, where they were holding one another and trying to comfort each other. Religions should not really be conflicting with one another.

Instead, they should be helping one another and mutual benefaction should arise. Third, the final scene of the story shows Isaac and Ishmael side-by-side with each other in front of their father’s grave. Also, there was a powerful build-up between Jacob and Issau after being separated for 22 years. They met, embraced, kissed one another, and went on their separate ways. The story tells about friendship and how distance and time cannot be a factor in the strength of bond and the connection of blood between brothers or in this case, between religions.

Fourth is the narrative of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him but instead, they threw him in a well. Eventually Joseph was separated with his family and became a powerful man. Later he was able to reconnect with his family. He announced that his brothers’ deed was God’s will and he meant it for good. The story is a scene of forgiveness, a paradigm of all human forgiveness in the bible. A mistake is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be helpful to a person especially if it is God’s will. Conflicts are not human nature.

As every religion commits mistake, every religion should always be ready to accept an apology and forgive others. It should always end in reconciliation. Fifth, Jews are the heirs of Issau, as Christians and Muslims are heirs of Jacob and Ishmael, respectively. These are the roots of theological conflicts that took place close to two thousand years, since every religion stick to the ideology of the surface narrative- Christians displaced Jews, Muslims displaced Christians, the younger displaced the older. Surface narrative is not all everything. There is always the concept of “behind the lines”.

There is a history of brothers living in peace together as the closing scene. Ideologies of Kant, Hume, Bentham, Smith and other philosophers cannot stop Holocaust if people continue to think and treat others as “less than human. ” The bible has a big undertaking. What the bible says beneath its surface narrative is the most important thing in the whole moral life. It’s seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. There is reconciliation. There is hope. Works Cited Sacks, J. (2003). The dignity of difference: Avoiding the clash of civilizations. New York, USA. Continuum Intl Pub Group


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