Divide Of East And West Cultures Cultural Studies Essay

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The divide between East and West undoubtedly stands there. There are either those who do not completely acknowledge this and propose schism along other lines of economics, or there are those who accept this with half-baked conviction. But this gulf has been increasingly recognized and accepted in the post-cold war era. With communism no more a threat after the fall of USSSR, the seething antagonism between East and West has resurfaced and is gathering more heat by the day. Looking from every aspect, we see west experiencing a somewhat uniform modern revival starting from the renaissance period. This period started west's domination in the modern era. From scientific progress to trade superiority, from colonial domination to becoming the most advanced nations in the world, West has seen a transition in the last 500 years that propelled it to the position that it holds today on the international stage. The rivalry between east and west, dating as far back as biblical times when Alexandar defeated the mighty Persians, has reached a crescendo where it is highly manifested in "war against terror" in post 9/11 era. The pattern of enmity between east and west is traced by Samuel Huntington when he recognizes. The Muslim world of the Greater Middle East (excluding Armenia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malta, and Sudan), northern West Africa, Albania, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Maldives as a separate regional civilization that has its own history and strategic importance. This region, Huntington notes, will become the centre of conflict against what would be considered the modern West.

This hypothesis has gathered great evidences in recent times. The rise of extremist organization with subscription to west-demolition ideologies since the time of Russian war and their impact on world events and security has paved the way towards the east vs. West clash. Post 9/11 has instilled paranoia about middle east which started from recognition of suspects in the terror plot, who mostly hailed from the middle east. Al-Qaeeda originated from the middle east and then spread to all parts of the world, resulting in stereotyping of muslims as terrorists and a general hatred for them translating in strong anti-muslim sentiment. The culmination of this strain between Middle East and the west should be understood in the context of its background. The conflict between the West and radical militant Islam can be understood as the polarization of 2 partial perspectives on social justice-the secular democratic individualistic Western worldview and the spiritual and collectivist Middle Eastern worldview. this polarization needs to be examined in the context

Of the following systemic aspects of current globalization: the twin processes ofGlobal integration and social disintegration as reflected in the Social Breakdown Syndrome,the deepening gap between the Global North and the Global South, and theunsustainable ideologization of the 20th century. The article suggests that theEast-West conflict reflects the fragmented nature of contemporary individual andcollective consciousness. It is proposed that there is a need for an integrative psychological approach to cultivating optimal individual and collective global consciousness and achieving a meeting and interpenetration between East and West(Elena,2006).

For those who wish for harmony to be created between east and west, it is important to realize that the gulf between the two goes back a long way. A complete acknowledgement of the historical duels including the famous crusades needs to be made on both sides. Then the most important factor of commitment to peace comes in. For that many compromises will need be made. Many grievances of the east, specifically Middle East in our case, will need to be addressed. Mutual trust can only be gained if confidence-building measures are taken in foreign policies of both east and west. The onus for peace will be more on the West as the general mood and perception labels east as the aggrieved party. From unfair macroeconomic policies by IMF to exploitation of oil resources, from a non-committal attitude towards Palestine issue to military intervention -there are a million counts of grievances which the east harbours against the West.

The intensification of efforts toward global peace can be seen as a culmination ofthe struggle to move in the direction of more just societies. The creation of theUnited Nations (UN), and the movement toward "official languages" in the UN,universal education, and universal aspirations for freedom have all become aspectsof our collective consciousness, embodied in the human rights movement and theefforts of over 1,000 nongovernmental organizations working for the emergingglobal civil society. On the other hand, the general lack of enthusiasm or even interest in these significant historical achievements in the media and the public mind exposes thedepth of the crisis the world is experiencing(Elena,2006).

If we move away from the political front and aim to bridge the east-west gap at a social and psychological level, it will be worth our while to understand the different directions both have taken. TheWHO has characterized this overall condition of the world as manifesting a Social Breakdown Syndrome, described as "a rising incidence and prevalence of psychosomatic diseases, mental disorders, anxiety and neurosis, prostitution, crimes, political corruption, and a variety of sexual diseases, including AIDS" (Elena,2006). Overall, the chasm that divides the Global North from the Global South, and the Social Breakdown Syndrome on a global scale, with its many social, political, and spiritual manifestations, provide an important context for understanding contemporary terrorism and clashes of worldviews(Prilleltensky, ,1997).

One of the most significant cultural dividing lines in the world runs along the pervasivecultural syndromes of individualism and collectivism. there is great variation over time in social patterns of organization both within and across cultures, the cultural syndromes of collectivism and individualism have exhibited four stable universal dimensions, namely: (a) interdependent versus independent definitions of the self; (b) alignment of personaland communal goals; (c) cognition focused on norms, obligations, and duties versuscognition focused on attitudes, personal needs, rights, and contracts; and (d)emphasis on relationships versus emphasis on rational analysis of advantages anddisadvantages(Elena,2006). It is very rare, however, to come across psychocultural interpretations of current conflicts ofworldviews that begin by acknowledging that the interpretation itself issituated within one of the aforementioned cultural syndromes. When we fail to articulate the assumptions about knowledge, the good life, and the good society out of which weare subjecting phenomena to analysis, we end up promoting a particular worldview(Marsella, 2003).

Western psychology continues to interpret social problems that originate in the structure of

the socioeconomic system or in the very nature of the historical times in intrapsychicterms, giving excessive weight to individual factors(Elena,2006). This tendency has been paralleled by an amplification of totalizing tendencies in Islamic cultures, as well as by a growing inclination on the part of Islamic religious leaders to formulate militant counter ideologies and tomanipulate the communal spiritual beliefs and attitudes of their compatriots to bring about their radicalization into militant Islam. The study of critical consciousness (Prilleltensky,1997) has shown how vulnerable marginalized people from deprived environments are to all kinds of ideologies. With these insights, both west and east should incorporate both individualism and collectivism in their social psyches as a balance of both attitudes will lead to more balanced individuals thus, contributing to a healthier society,which obviously will help reduce ill-will towards each other.

Any society can be seen as consisting of three human "orders"-the economic, the sociopolitical, and the spiritual orders. These three orders interact with one another, and "society as a whole is harmonious, or inharmonious, according to the quality of relations and interactions between its three parts" (p. 45). To the extent that one order dominates, the imbalance "ruins the autonomy and optimal functioning of the subordinate orders. Western societies in the main are obsessed with economic development, with rampant materialism overshadowing and distorting the sociopolitical and spiritual orders(Mary, 2004). Some countries in the Muslim world serve to demonstrate societal dissonance because of the marked dominance of the spiritual order. Therefore, it is important for both east and west to strike sociological balances in all three domains and even learn from each other as East provides rich legacy in spiritual order and West gives strong guidance in modern economic order. Such realizations are noteworthy especially in the case of UK reporter Yvonne Ridley, the Sunday Express reporter who was held for 10 days by the Taliban after 9/11 and later converted to Islam(Hoffman, 2008). Her western background and then later, study of an eastern religion brought about the right mix in which she could realize the possibility of achieving success in all three domains. Figureheads who have had deep exposure in both western and eastern societies need to inspire and motivate the general folk to understand more about the current dichotomous factions so that tolerance and acceptance can be created for each other.Yousuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, turned from a western pop icon to a devout muslim researcher. People with such experiences can help bridge the east-west gap by being more communicative and harnessing their energies in this direction ((Hoffman, 2008)..

Media is the greatest education tool in today's world. A study of history will reveal that east and west have shared great learning together. The empire of Cordoba gave Europe unprecedented scientific invention, social development and thought progression. Muslim spain gave Europe street lights and water piping system for the first time. Great centres of learning were established where all subjects including medicine, philosophy, architecture and art made great progress. These developments exposed Europe to learning and paved the way for the onset of Renaissance which brought the west to where it is(Hughes, 2005). These common heritage need to be shared with the common people so that instead of further divisions between east and west, these common sources of advancements can be equally cherished. Clearing up misunderstanding from a historical standpoint can root out today's misgivings as there is an ever increasing need to find the common and accept the differences(Matthews, 2007). The work of Bettany Hughes is specially relevant in this regard. She is an is an Englishhistorian, broadcaster and writer whose documentary "When the Moors ruled in Europe"(Available on Youtube.com) in 2005 highlight many of utilities given to the world by Muslims and taken for granted by the world today.

To make the entire conciliatory process wholesome and more effective, education systems need to become more tolerant of east-west divide. The official version of history in which one's own country is glorified at the expense of another need to revised so that future generations have a more tolerant view of history and hence, hold lesser biases against other nations. As xenophobia is on the rise in the west after 9/11, (Marsella, 2003) more exchange at people level between west and east will help turn the situation around, if given substantial time and commitment. Student exchange programs in universities, cultural studies programs in school curriculums and more intermingling between people will help destroy boundaries of divide and bring people together.Taking this a step further, trade relations between east and west need to be further boosted. It should be kept in mind, however, that current foreign policy designs have to restructured to allow eradication of ethnic and national biases. A free-flowing trade benefitting both east and west without hindrance of political mishmash will result in happiness and wealth for all.