Lost in diversity: what we have forgotten

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Globalization – humanity has obsessed over this idea of worldwide interaction involving the politics, economies, and cultures of different nations. Globalization has often been linked with westernization, and globalization has come to mean the spreading of western ideals and thoughts. However, now the focus has shifted to a new question: What aspects of our unique identities and culture are we losing in globalization?

An example of the effects of globalization lies in the formation of Australian culture, which was born from large-scale international interaction. Ever since the arrival of Europeans in late eighteenth century, many of the aboriginal tribes in the area have been impacted by the unintended consequences. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), more languages have been lost in Australia than anywhere else on the planet. Additionally, in the name of progress, Europeans who populated the land have continued to push the aboriginals to barren corners of the continent. This has led to massive poverty, inadequate education, and insurmountable employment problems in many native communities. In fact, suicide rates among aboriginals have increased. A 2014 article by ABC reported that indigenous suicide rates exceeded 100 times the national average. The causes were reported to be a result of both poverty and cultural identity crises, revealing to some the detrimental effects of westernization on native cultures.

“It’s a shame [that the world is losing so much tradition]and I don’t think a civilization should be complete without its culture,” said Morgan Miller, a social studies teacher. “It seems to be that if a nation does not assimilate into the western culture, you tend to be left out [of the global network].”

Singapore is also reported to experience similar problems regarding cultural identity. From its British colonization era, the country has been influenced greatly by westernizatiobn. To this day, Singapore remains a highly diverse nation, with ethnic Chinese, Malay, and Indians all peacefully coexisting in the state. The country also hosts a range of multinational companies.  However, according to Global Ethics Network, a website dedicated to awareness of ethics, Singaporean traditions have been fading away due to influence of globalization. Increasingly, people have been on the lookout for pizza or Starbucks instead of traditional Singaporean food.

Perhaps the loss of certian cultural elements and traditions is a long-term effect of colonization. Post-independence, many of these countries may have strived to quickly assimilate into the now heavily Western-dominated society of fast food chain restaurants, ripped jeans, and heavy emphasis on capitalistic business ventures. Eager to build up coutries economically, many may have forgotten their unique cultural and historical elements.

In response to the disappearance of indigenous culture, many have tried to revive lost traditions. Particularly in Australia, efforts have been made to revive the aboriginal experience. For example, songs were written in the native languages of Australia to increase awareness. According to Micheal Silber, high school social studies teacher, University of British Columbia is attempting to preserve indigenous languages through  additional research and coursework at local schools.

“It has become more challenging to preserve identity and culture,” Mr. Silber said.”Identity and culture sometimes just becomes a tourism thing. It’s something like some trinket that is sold in West Africa. There are ways to resist; there are ways to preserve. But it takes effort. It takes money.”

Loss of culture may be synonomous with loss of identity. However, in some cases, a progressive attitude may be more beneficial for a society. In India, westernization has altered the inflexible caste system to include more open mindsets. Although the social hierarchy still does exist, there are many more opportunities and protection for the lower classes. According to BBC News, India is slowly progressing, making new laws protecting the Dalits, also known as the untouchables, as well as having them in positions of power.

“I think we have to put things into perspective,” said Jeffrey Park, an advocate for progressivism. “We have to identify the harms of globalization but we don’t want to say ‘lets go back to a pre-globalized age’ where there  is a definite preservation of culture, but less democracy, more famine, more problems.”

Globalization indeed has become a fact of life, with the advent of technologies such as the internet. However, humanity now has to answer the bigger questions about the balance between global culture and tradition, community and individuality,  progressivism and conservatism.

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Andrea Jiwon Kwon

Andrea Kwon is a junior reporter of Tiger Times.

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