“Glocality”: Global Trends, Local Realities

glocalization2Watching world politics and following its economic concerns, I feel it’s time to take our lemons and make some lemonade! I’m reflecting on some socio-religious, cultural trends…

First, Globalization is here to stay. Whether we like it or not, the world today has shrunk and we are all wired together! In spite of the IMF and WTO or AMWAY for that matter, most people today are like me–“international!” Second, McDonaldization, often equated with Americanization, means we live in a consumerist, “have it your way,” “lovin’ it” society, where even Christianity is packaged and marketed a certain way (Have you watched televangelists?). In Asia, we have third-culture, neither here or there “coconut kids”–brown on the outside, but white on the inside.

The third is what in India we call Saffronization, with indigenous peoples realizing and reacting to their rootlessness on account of their native cultural values being eroded, if not destroyed, by a flat-land philosophy for life. This, after 9/11 augmented forms of religious fundamentalisms that resented discrimination based on caste, class, color, or creed. Further, it became militant in taking serious issue with any form of cohesion or enticement of one’s faith, which for many in the non-western world was synonymous to native religiosity. In short, conversion became a “no-no!”

Now, I’m not campaigning for a tolerance that ends up as compromise, where people without moral absolutes don’t have the guts to stand for something and eventually fall for everything! Today’s ethical relativism has a way of confusing mother Theresa with Lady Diana. I’m concerned because in life, we are not celebrating our differences but rather arrogantly exploiting the “other”–be it another faith or way of doing something. We adopt an “it’s my way or the highway” policy at home with kids or in our governments. Yet, while people fight for their rights, sadly they don’t take responsibility and with selfish attitudes develop global “wings” while retaining strong, local roots!

Anyways, I’m advocating “Glocalization,” where there is a healthy hybridity. Notice how global tends are shaping local cultures. Observe what’s happening in our traditional cities: in Bombay, now Mumbai, India, or Nairobi, Kenya, our daughters are invading the malls in their cut-off jeans with their iPods in hand. Gosh, I could be in NY! Yet local culture can shape, and has made, global phenomena. Don’t we all love Italian Pizza, Chinese take-out, and Indian curry? Did you know India gave the world shampoo and pajamas?

The “glocal” respects the dignity of the other while remaining winsome through a life that reflects truth and love. I’m referring to the (only) Truth that sets us free and a perfect Love that casts out all fear (Jn. 8:38; 1 Jn. 4:18, Jn.10:10)! The Westminster Confession perhaps had it right in stating that the chief end of humans is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Such experiential knowledge and lifestyle in Christ is abundant, not indulgent, and guess what? I’m lovin’ Him!

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