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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Sticks and Stones
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Wednesday, June 7,2017

Sticks and Stones

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

Globalization. Scholars weigh the pros and cons. Politicians take sides about how it impacts "us". You would think globalization is a 20th century concept but, really, it’s been happening since the beginning of time. When you think about it, the center of anyone’s universe begins with the self. The extent to which our world expands and interacts with others depends on the transportation technology of the time period. We started on two feet, and now we have rockets. You get the picture. 

Roughly 2300 years ago, Alexander the Great traveled outside of his world and found that, in fact, there were some other pretty sophisticated places out there. He found powerful kingdoms in Egypt, Persia and India, sharing (and imposing) Greek culture with those he encountered, and bringing with him some very cool items and ideas he found in each region. His travels and conquests resulted in a blending of cultures historically referred to as Hellenistic and it was the largest example of globalization to that date in history. Next came the Roman Empire. The famous "Silk Road" between China and the west became the next era of world trade, with it own set of pros and cons. Fast Forward to Christopher Columbus - two worlds collide, ringing in hundreds of years of conquest, genocide, cultural blending, cultural extinction, imperial wars and a flourishing of ideas about how to address this ‘new era’ of globalization.

Revolutions in technology determine winners and losers, causing revolutions in thought about what to do about it. Imperialism, mercantilism, capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, militarism, pacifism, nationalism, globalism. We are living smack dab in the middle of the birth of a new era, and no one knows what it will look like. No one has the answers. All we can do is postulate. In uncertain times, there is a tendency to look back to see what worked before, or at least for some guidance on how not to repeat the same mistakes. And when we don’t learn, history does repeat itself. Challenges of the past present themselves in new ways for a new generation to grapple with. Issues change. People don’t. In each new era there are those who advocate for interaction and cooperation, and those who advocate for a more defensive position. In each new era, winners and losers emerge. Love, hate, war, peace, left, right, rich, poor, us, them.

But what also repeats itself is a new tide of progress, prosperity and peace. A new Golden Age somewhere emerges and there is relative peace. Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Pax Americana. Might we finally achieve Pax Globica? The pendulum swings between peace and revolution. Looking backward, the writing’s on the wall. We are more interconnected than we’ve ever been and our weapons of mass destruction are just that - weapons of mass destruction. Einstein once commented that we may not even know yet how World War III would be fought, but World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. The question is, will we essentially ctrl-alt-delete the world as we know it and start over? Or might we be the first generation to find a way to find peace before another great war, because the cost is too great? The history has yet to be written.

 

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