Thursday, April 5, 2018

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 2-on-1 April 6

I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of poetry. My experiences reading and analyzing poems have pretty much always been based on assignments in school. Some have expressed surprise over this because of my love for music, but though I love music I detest opera. We all have our limits - poetry and opera being two of mine.So here we are - a topic drawn directly from a Rudyard Kipling poem that actually screams relevance in today's world. Leave it to Ramana to so subtly point out my shortcomings - that darn Karma thing I guess.

Okay - enough whining - done so with nary a slice of good, sharp cheddar I might add. But seriously - given the conditions prevalent in today's world was Kipling on to something? Are several ultra-aggressive religions responsible for the divisions we deal with in the world and are they insurmountable? According to Wikipedia, the top 5 religions based on adherents are as of 2012 are Christianity with 3.2 billion adherents, Islam with 1.8 billion adherents, Secular non-religious including atheist and agnostic with 1.2 billion adherents, Hinduism with 1.1 billion adherents and Buddhism with .5 billion adherents. You can view the entire list here. The top three are all typical isms - my way or the highway (in this case  straight to hell, though the secular non-believers may disagree).

While logic would seem to dictate a global approach to the world many countries are adopting a much more nationalistic me first attitude that is not conducive to adaptability. Many Muslims seem intent on taking over portions of western society through the ballot box along with acts of terror. This has led some countries - the USA included -to attempt to restrict Muslim immigration. Since Islam is as much a way of life as it is a religion, it seems the fears may be well founded based on the European experience. I suspect our roots as an immigrant country have made it easier for Muslims to integrate into our society but that may be in jeopardy due to radical Islamic terror. All Muslims come under much more intense scrutiny thanks to the actions of a small percentage of the entire faith. I should point out, though, that although the percentage is small the numbers are large. If one in ten Muslims are "radicals" then that means there are almost two million radical Muslims.

Christianity has had its time in the violence game. Remember the Crusades?  The original Friday the 13th massacre? How about something as recent as the troubles in Northern Ireland? It seems some religions are as adept at using fear to keep their folks in line as any nation state.

I confess that when I started this little ditty I was positive and upbeat like my liberal education taught me (I have a BA in Political Science) But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there will not likely be a come together moment between east and west. There will always be small percentages of people from both ends of the spectrum that embrace adaptability. Many people love to travel to strange, far away lands. But they then return home to the way of life that is more comfortable to them, fully convinced they are people of the world because they developed an appreciation for the cuisine of whatever land they visited. 

The bottom line is simply that the West and East are too different to have that come together moment, But that does not mean we cannot have mutually beneficial relationships. We live in a truly global economy that requires cooperation to prevent mutual destruction. At the same time, certain Eastern countries believe they must develop nuclear arms to be respected in the new world order. They feel they must counter the West militarily to control Western empire building which history shows has been the norm. Western empire building is largely a thing of the past but "Fake News" keeps the mythology going. Russia is perhaps the most active empire builder (rebuilder?) on the world scene and they need to be dealt with though whether Russia is in the West or East is a topic worthy of discussion.

It can be considered somewhat ironic IMHO that the East is the birthplace of the oldest civilizations on the planet with the possible exception of the Central and South American natives (Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas). But they were not assimilated well into Western civilization (those old school Catholics were an ornery lot).  

So my conclusion is that the quote is truer than not - East and West will essentially remain separate but equal partners with neither able to fully assimilate the other into a integrated society beyond trading partners. 

To see what Ramana has to say, go here.


  1. It is karma that Christianity, the second oldest of the Middle Eastern religions is now being considered as Western! What a development! As an aside, there is a strong movment among Indian Christians to depict Christ and his parents as brown people who look like Indians! And that is a backlash against evangelicals subtly trying to convey the message the White religion is better than the brown or black ones!

    After reading your post, and the comments on mine from you and Nick, I am beginning to have second thoughts about the extent of the meeting of the two that I was under the impression had taken place.

    Great piece of writing Shackman.

    1. It has always offended me when I see Jesus depicted as blond haired, blue eyed. He was a middle eastern fellow, swarthy skinned. The West hiojacked Christianity just as radical Muslims have hijacked Islam. Christ and his parents certainly looked more like Indians than they did Europeans. We are dancing around the core of my distaste for religion here.

      while you and I enjoy the differences in cultures and like to explore them, we are well educated and can appreciate differences and NOT BE AFRAID of them. We tend to associate with curious folks who are more open minded. And here's to us. There just needs to be more like us and here at least education is being looked down upon.