Scenario: Aminata and Ezra are discussing the effects of globalization as a form of modernization or Westernization of the world. Aminata points out all of globalization’s class and commercialized aspects—including the ubiquitous McDonald’s and Levis—that have negative effects on local cultures. For example, Western nations often purchase rainforests and valuable land overseas to graze cattle for cheap beef in fast food restaurants. Still, 8,000 children continue to die daily from hunger and malnutrition, around the globe, even while these Western franchises expand. They also sometimes employ child or slave labor to make many of their garments, in deplorable conditions, to import back to Western nations. She invokes the following African proverbs to lament the excessive materialism and lack of humanity reflected in globalization:
It is the human being that counts: I call upon gold, it answers not; I call upon cloth, it answers not; it is the human being that counts. ~Akan Proverb
An abundance of food at your neighbour’s will not satisfy your hunger. ~Bayaka Proverb
Ezra understands Aminata’s concerns but contends that globalization also produces many benefits including an increase in cross-cultural understanding, the transference of concerns for human rights and democracy, and the possibility for economic development. In fact, benefiting from one of these cross-cultural exchanges himself, Ezra quotes his American Zen teacher who often shares the famous koan: What do you call the world?
Ezra explains that while there is much suffering in the world, and we certainly should seize the opportunity for discussions and finding solutions, this koan is meant to get our minds to ask the important questions before reacting. What is the true nature of suffering? What is the real cause here? Can I effectively help a world that I see as separate from myself? Might it be more beneficial for me to deeply understand how the world is not something outside of myself that needs saving? Could daily mindfulness in my own small actions make more of an impact? (Kuruvilla, 2015).
This activity aligns with module outcomes 2 and 3.
Prepare for your discussion by completing your readings and viewings. Then respond to the following:
- Do you identify more with the position of Aminata or Ezra? What is your personal observation of these globalization issues, in light of what you learned from global ethical perspectives? Do the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa?
- If some cultures are endangered by globalization, do we have a moral obligation to resist exporting our products or ideas? Explain your response, drawing upon both the Eastern and African ethical models we explored in this module. End with a proverb or koan that best reflects your own global philosophy.
Initial Discussion Post
Your initial post should be at least 250 words and must substantively integrate the assigned readings from the module with proper APA style formatting.