A thoughtful American: “Western Culture has initiated and is leading a global assault on the biosphere.”


I do empathize with this feeling, shared by many people all over the world.

However, I think we should not equate Western culture  with just one aspect of Western/global civilization.

Yes, modern science first emerged in Western Christian Europe.

And from it grew a civilization rooted in modern technology which has given rise to serious threats to our very existence as a species.

This technological civilization is now being avidly embraced  by many Non-Western peoples, adding to the amounts of  environmental poisons that threaten our species.

So the culprit is global modern technology which involves consuming ever-increasing and  reckless quantities of matter and energy by an ever increasing number of people.

If the gunpowder invented in China had led to zillions of guns and bullets all over the world, it would be unfair/inappropriate to condemn Chinese culture for it.

If the decimal system had led to calculation-catastrophes in our binary computer systems, it would be unfair/inappropriate to blame India’s culture for it simply because the Hindus first thought of the zero.

Culture includes art and music and dance, poetry, literature, philosophy and ethics.

Our complaint should  therefore  be against, and our disappointment should be with, technology which, like tobacco, provided us initially with some kicks, but has been discovered to be the cause of many fatal ailments.

Western culture is more than two thousand years old, and its intellectual and aesthetic legacies are enormous.

It is part of Western civilization in which modern science and technological know-how had their genesis, with many positive fruits for all of humankind and an enormously ominous potential for many species.

To prevent the dangers that are lurking from rampant technology, people from all nations and races, all  religions, cultures and civilizations must join hands in their combined determination to solve the problems, without pointing the finger at this culture or that civilization. Such finger-pointing and shrieks of cultural mea culpa doesn’t contribute much to the solution of the real problems facing us.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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