Necessary Discomfort

This was originally posted as a comment to http://mutiny.in/2009/01/01/divided-we-stand and inspired me to add similar philosophical discussions to my blog in the future. The thesis of the original post was, is complete globalization necessary to achieve peace?  My thoughts below.

Globalization in its most extreme, leading to the disintegration of homelands, somewhat fits with my ongoing theory that mutual discomfort is what makes us adult humans. I wouldn’t advocate the actual disintegration of a cultural identity, but I do believe every person needs to become more of a world citizen to some degree.

Discomfort toward constructive ends is necessary. If I never learned math or English, would I be able to earn a decent living? If I wasn’t forced to help with my parents’ business as a child, would I be a manager at age 22? If people never went to school or summer camp, would they grow and learn? Doing chores is uncomfortable. Being a member of society can be uncomfortable. Integrating into a new culture can be uncomfortable. Our fathers told us that dealing with this discomfort built our character and made us more mature, but we didn’t listen to them, and so we avoid discomfort all the time, to our own and to the world’s detriment.

I advocate discomfort. Sell your car and ride the train. Talk with homeless people and volunteer for women’s shelters. Visit a foreign country for a month or two and realize that although a foreign cultural system may not agree with ours, it is the system’s integrity that matters, not the system itself. We must find a way to integrate with foreign cultures or risk alienating our worldly neighbors. We can’t ask other cultures to integrate with us– this is a personal task and responsibility. Ideally we are able to integrate without fully abandoning our own culture or diluting either culture to irrelevance. These are uncomfortable tasks but necessary for our maturity and usefulness as human adults, in this new interconnected world where an American has the privilege and honor of commenting in an Indian publication.

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