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In “The age of global tribes”, Amin Maalouf presents two themes; religion as the main identifier in now a days and globalization. He discusses these in parallel, demonstrating how they affect and shape one another. He approaches the issue of religion by attempting to analyze how it came to be that specific aspect of identity that everyone seems to be holding on to presently through a series of questions resonating around the source or reason for this global drive back to religion. He provides some probable answers attributing this phenomenon, as he calls it, for example to the fall of Communism and Marxism and how their goal of obliterating religion back fired, hence making religion the sole refuge for the oppressed.
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The author’s position is clear through out this chapter, for although, he’s personally not against religious affiliation and he believes that religion is always going to be a present factor no matter how dynamic the equation of life got, he still stands against religious affiliation being the primary or sole form of identification and declares that we are in a need for an other aspect of association He calls upon a separation of “church and identity” and states that if religious affiliation were to be replaced, it ought to be with something more “humane” and not the opposite.
When addressing the issue of globalization, Maalouf describes its power of propagation and how in the face of such a strong phenomenon, religion is being chosen as the shield and sought as a refuge since it seems to be comforting and fulfilling both urging needs of spirituality and identity.
This is a very interesting chapter from his book, as it discusses an extremely real and present phenomena, the battle between identity and globalization. One could take such a dilemma lightly dismissing it as a natural reaction to change, but what one must realize is that like any battle ever fought, it’s the lessons that one learns while fighting that are more valuable than the outcome itself. We, as individuals should be concerned about this ongoing conflict, one that we are involved in without even being aware of. We take it for granted that we know who we are and where we stand but when faced with a crisis, things shift drastically and we surprisingly find ourselves on sides we might not have known even existed. That’s what this excerpt invoked in me, while reading it, especially when the author presents the idea of how one is in fact closer to his contemporaries than to his ancestors, elaborating this through the two types of heritages that he calls vertical and horizontal. Our horizontal heritages seem to affect us more than we realize, this is something to seriously reflect upon and understand since we do by habit or denial tend to hold ourselves in regards primarily if not solely of the vertical’s level point of view. For this battle to end, we all should find a way to mingle these two phases of our heritages within us in order to achieve inner peace. This should be taken on an individual level; every part should “heal” itself in order for the whole to be able to achieve harmony.
Globalization like any other phenomenon is a medium; it has both good and bad in it. Why do we take it as a habit to scorn upon the objects, means or mediums rather than the persons who use them to do bad? These mediums are not bad or good by nature but they hold the potentiality of being one or the other, depending on who’s using them. They are in a state of neutrality until used, and hence the outcome if bad should therefore be attributed to the person and not vice versa. The author in this chapter tries to show the potential good that globalization can bring in that it can in fact help direct the world’s attention to a global identity. The only aspect that we all should hold as primary of our identities, is our humanity, that’s the type of lineage that we should strongly identify with, that’s what we all have in common , that’s what we all are no matter what .
Admitting that common bond will in no way make us less of the individuals that we are.
How did union come to mean “loss”? Why is it ok to belong to a certain group but suddenly its threatening if it’s on a universal level? On the contrary, I find it personally to be inspiring and strengthening to belong to such a universal lineage, especially one that is as certain and as real as humanity. Because coming to think of it, anything else in the world is taken now a days by words or actions, making it a complex and unstable foundation for intentions and motives are involved and one can never manage to know these for sure but humanity is the only aspect of ourselves that is undisputed; one cannot pretend to be a human being! Of course, history is full of examples of certain characters that lacked humanity in them as shown by their actions and thoughts but these I insist remain an exception.
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I find myself standing on Maalouf’s side in his call for a universal identity , one that we all belong to by the virtue of our humanity and through which we all enjoy our fundamental rights and one in which our dignity is revered and preserved. For universality cannot exist without such concepts. Human dignity should be maintained above all. Unfortunately, realistically speaking we stand in a world very far from achieving this view any time soon whether it is due to political systems, materialistic notions or simply apathy , I honestly don’t know. But I do hold conviction to one thing and that is in order for us to embody such a vision, we will have to start with ourselves first, this has to be fought on an individual level and once we’ve all dealt with it ,we’ll realize that the battle is already won.
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