Ethno-religious identities in the global village

In this 21st century people all over the world have become aware of how far away places are being brought closer together into a so-called ‘global village’. This trend is enhanced by modern communication and transport systems such as the Internet, e-mail. high- speed trains and planes.

The phenomenon of the global village makes it necessary to understand how local adaptation is often coloured by ancient ethno-religious identities. . Today people of various ethnic and religious groups live closer to each other than in past centuries and there is a general expectation that they will gradually forget their identities within the melting pot of the global village. Often this expectation is fuelled by countries who are stand most to benefit from globalism.

It is natural for countries and communities who are potential losers in the global movement to seek ways of regaining the lost power and prestige that globalism brings. With the threat of losing so much they have only their ethnic and religious identities as a basis for coming together to regain what they have lost. The question may be asked as to why they focus on ethno-religious identities rather than political systems which could help them fight to regain what they have lost in the global economy. But political systems often have to go along with global tendencies for their survival and people are reluctant to resist or work to prevent policies implemented by the most powerful countries of the world.

Many so-called Third World countries have been reviving their ethno-religious identities politically - at times with extreme tendencies - as a response to global tendencies. Often they have taken an anti-western stance in response to the centralisation of global powers in the west. These ethno-religious identities are becoming further strengthened as a result of the western standardisation of such aspects of human life as materialism, cultures and political systems where some minorities are even faced with actual extinction.

Nor can we overlook the way in which ethno-religious identities were used by nations in the 20th century to gain independence from western colonial rule. The fresh memories of these struggles for independence have encouraged peoples in Third World countries to use their ethno-religious identities once again to fight the forces, which threaten their very existence in the world. Is it not, therefore, the responsibility of the western world to be sensitive to the ethno- religious identities of poorer nations and to avoid the extreme steps taken by some groups in those countries?

Otherwise it will be difficult to prevent the expansion of groups, which threaten peace throughout the world. If the current tendency of rich countries to become richer while poor countries become poorer is not checked it will be hard to stop people in poorer countries taking extreme steps - feeling they have nothing to lose.

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