There is a Chinese proverb which says,
If you want to know the taste of water, don’t ask the fish!
Hold on to this thought.
It has been almost two years since I left Zimbabwe to study in India. It has been quite an insightful experience for me; I have loosened up on some beliefs and pitched tent on some with the help of quite different perspectives I have picked up on from here. This idea of using insight from outside my community is the basis of this blog post. Bear with me!
Have you ever wondered why some crimes or immoral activities are prevalent in certain geographies? Suicide cases, bombings, mass shootings etc. are some activities you would reasonably associate with certain regions across the globe. Even poverty and war have their regions of prevalence.
Could it be that can be a result of a glitch in the belief systems of the geographies? I have reason to believe so and I think the challenge is in identifying the glitch or hatch of the prevalent immoral or criminal act because it can be quite illusive to the locals as they are too close to see. I believe that communities have Localised Logic which sometimes incubate some unjust inclinations.
If you follow my blog you might have realised that I have always pondered upon some questions of an existential nature such as Purpose, Morality etc. I recently had an epiphany about how a global perspective may help shape the best belief system which is morally relevant and logically consistent for the contemporary world. I call this a Planetary Mindset and it is, in my belief, a solution to offset the dangers of localised logic.
I recently discovered the way that I used to think before coming to India was strongly hinged on the life I had lived in Zimbabwe. There were some things which passed for logical to me which I have learned to see in a different planetary light. I used to have a localised way of thinking. That Chinese proverb is relevant to this because when you were confined within a certain society for a long time, chances are that Social Programming has tempered with your best judgment. Some perspectives were far fetched for me to grapple with. A different mind or perspective from persons from other localies pointed me to the hubs of contention and injustice that were hard for me to realize from my locality’s vintage point. I think it is the same in your case or everyone’s thereof.
I have sited some notable examples that would help shade light about what a planetary mindset is and the idea of localised logic. I urge you to think objectively in this and not take anything personal. I have handpicked events and systems which are relevant especially to those people I intend to inspire so when you see an example from your locality in the events or systems, feel privileged and more challenged to think objectively. My intention is to help you consider that despite the myriad differences that are apparent around the world, there could be a common ground or a common lense through which we can assess our world fairly in the hope of bettering ourselves as individuals, societies and nations.
Localities incubate some tendencies which may not be objectively good especially over time as assumptions solidify into facts or as arbitrarily established systems become virtually objective lifestyles so much that humanity loses its essence for a systematic copy-paste autopilot kind of life. This is quite true in some communities where all the people think and act in the same way. Whilst this may have its advantages, the disadvantage comes when the systematic way of thinking harbors or encourages some unjust norms.
What living in India and my access to news about other religions across the world have taught me is how logic is localized in pretty much every part of the world. That is partly why, I believe, most of the worst atrocities in the History of the world often found justification in the locality in which they were enacted. Let me try to sustain this last point with the examples I promised you earlier.
Do you remember Heaven’s Gate? In 1997, a religious group leader Marshall Applewhite convinced 38 of his followers to commit suicide together with him supposedly to reach an alien space ship which they believed was following a certain comet.
This is a typical example of how elastic the human mind can be. There was a localised logic that persuaded even its mouthpiece to go through with this exceedingly moronic act. Could it be that you are victim of a similar indoctrination?
Do you know about the Armenian Genocide? A round table of persons trusted with power in Turkey reached a consensus to annihilate the Armenians- a race of people that sought solace in Turkish territories at that time. The wholesale killing, acting within legal parameters, claimed between 800 000 and 1.5 million Armenians. The death toll came to this much proving beyond any reasonable doubt that there was very little to no criticism against this. Somehow it made sense to the perpetrators, ergo Localised Logic.
Tiananmen Square Protests.
Moreover, the world (maybe with the exception of the newest generation in China since discussing this incident is criminalized there) will never forget the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. Unarmed civilians, including students, having a peaceful protest received a violent response from troops with assault rifles and tanks that claimed thousands of lives.
This operation was sanctioned by the government and it received more criticism from the international community than from the desensitized locals.
Swaziland’s King Mswati
In Swaziland, Africa, King Mswati regularly takes wives for himself. Now he has 14 wives, a comparatively generous number to the 125+ wives his father, Sobhuza 2, had.
More is the pity, so many mothers in Swaziland groom their daughters for a chance with the King at a very revered traditional ceremony. Again, most of the noise against this comes from the international community; most of the locals there know nothing about the objectification of women.
The Slave Trade.
Even the Slave Trade when viewed from the less obvious light would expose how some African leaders were actually selling off some people to the Slave Traders rather than an exclusively force matter as it is viewed by many.
Okay, now the obvious light: The Slave traders often pointed out how they had been given the black people as their right with some overstretched ideas from the Bible.
Furthermore, India’s Caste System, whose curious detects were revoked in 1949-50, had sustained the subcontinent since long before 1000BC. I recently watched a documentary with a renowned Indian historian doctorate holder with Yale University and the issue was not, an angle which has become hopeless in intellectual discussions, to justify the Caste System. Instead, basically, she argued that it was more helpful than misleading.
Seeing how the Caste system was functional for over three thousand years may give you insight about how some strongholds may be justified in certain localities. Noteworthy, just to be fair, Casteism also exists in some parts of the world or at least in similar shades of discrimination such as tribalism. The challenge is that usually the people within a certain locality may not grasp any injustice in a system that is emphasized.
This same applies for all the other regions across the globe which often need an international community to give a nudge to protests which may encourage equality, justice, love, respect and other critical elements that lead to an exceptional society.
Systematic thinking may be effective in easy governance but when the system is not one that can stand outside scrutiny or assessment then there is a possibility that the logic or mindset of the locality in which the system is implemented will have loopholes for injustices and oppression.
Just to humor you, this is simply because there is a confirmation bias in localised logic.
Now, just as you would often times need to look out the window in a plane to be sure that the plane is moving- as the sensation when the plane is moving is often the same as when the plane is stationary- it is critical that you listen in to different perspectives as you establish your own world view. Looking from outside your locality helps you determine if there is any moral progress within your locality. Some perspectives from India and across the world have inspired me to see my community in a different and better light. It can be the same for you. Listen in to outside criticisms; the foreign eye often times has a vintage point that is illusive to the locals.
After all, a fulfilling life comprises a juxtapose of myriad ideas from all around the world.
P.S. If you are interested in knowing a little more about what I think a quality life ought to be and most importantly why I think so then please interest yourself with my post on Moral Imperatives.