It’s difficult to see that “globalization” has brought us any of the socio-economic benefits gained through effective outsourcing, joint ventures, increased contact and improved communication. It’s done a better job of almost bringing us to the brink of war. This is disheartening to the advocates of world government.
Television and the internet have brought the good, the bad and the ugly into our living rooms in ever larger numbers. In the days of radio, Adolph Hitler was the thug du jour. He was not terribly interesting but was overly ambitious. He was unattractive and coarse but he came from a country we thought we knew. So big deal about all of this until he started moving into neighboring countries and slaughtering Jews and other minorities. A global war ensued. But his was evil easily discerned in a local theater. In those days, most politics was still largely “local.”
Today’s ‘Hitler’ is another small man of threatening stature, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran, formerly ancient Persia, is a country of great culture, history and diversity. But since the revolution, it has been a country of less than honorable men carrying out questionable deeds in the name of Allah. Iran is only one of several Muslim countries adept at using PR to gain ground in their push to reestablish the ancient Caliphate and to expand its borders.
Radical Muslims infuriate adults in the west but all too often intrigue their youth. Why? In the 1960s, everyone under 21 wanted to be a Hari Krishna or Buddhist. It was different, fascinating and provided something missing in their lives. But these were religions of peace and understanding. Islam is a tougher sell – especially when the endgame is a war against Christians and Jews.
So what do you do to ensnare converts for operations? You don’t use joy and peace as a carrot – you use terror. Think of all the young people in the world who submit themselves willingly to terror. They live for it. That is why the SAW movies became serialized. But terror with an orthodox set of teachings – irresistible. The end result of all of this is that one day you find a young American in a pile of Taliban prisoners you are loading onto a truck. What was in it for him? Advanced theology 401? Well yes but also goosebump-making fear and terror. Staring into the jaws of death for an exotic religion – what could be more interesting. This is youthful rebellion in full flush – taking down your father’s imperialistic country is pretty exciting stuff.
Communications done right is artfully using eye and ear deceiving methods to advance that which has the most appeal not necessarily that which is of the greatest good. But this is only a part of the equation. Us of this will garner you American Taliban recruits.
Artful communication, however, is wasted on those with a lack of knowledge. In a fast-moving world, time for learning the subtleties of our cultural differences has not been gifted to us. We are largely condemned to watch and listen to each other and to our leaders and then innocently go on to make knee-jerk reactions to what is all too often the wrong signal. We see and hear what we WANT to see and hear but often it is also a question of seeing and hearing only that which we can understand. We are unaware there is another way of “hearing” or “seeing” it.
Complicating this are the perils of translation. For example, there is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad standing behind a podium (no doubt on a box) with a delicious floral spray artistically placed off-center and falling gently over the edge. He is smiling. He, like Hitler, is unattractive. But he knows it . He is more supremely confident. And those heavenly flowers – oh what could be wrong with this picture? Well the translation for openers. The translator may not get it totally right. Their often straight up sense of what is being said may end up being way off the mark – without a sense of local usage. For example, Ahmadinejad might open his mouth, smile knowingly and say what we hear as:
” We will be coming to get you and eviscerate your grandmothers” when in fact the President had said something to degrade rather than terrorize: “we will be coming to get you and invite your grandmothers to cook for us.” Hyperbole is engaged here to throw emphasis on the fact that local sayings can and do sound bizarre to the average listener. Great misunderstandings have occurred over such details.
So in communications, there is little globalization due to the aforementioned - only misunderstandings multiplied to the point of putting the entire globe on permanent red alert. It seems as if our ever shrinking planet has presented increased opportunities for error rather than understanding. There is just not enough time to yell out “I didn’t mean eviscerate your grandmothers, I meant invite them….” before a missile is launched to stop you from starting on your perceived mission to maim.