Spirituality and globalization: a multi-level equation

Author:Angel Iulian Popescu
Pages:406-416

Angel Iulian Popescu. Ph.D., Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest (e-mail: prot85@yahoo.com).

Page 406

A Compulsory remarks
1. Introduction

A scientific approach engages important principles in order to configure a strong and solid argumentation. In the present context, when we are analyzing the complex relations between spirituality and globalization, we need to imply two aspects - first the fact that any actual social process is a re-actualization of older ones (“there is nothing new under the sun”); secondly we have to recognize spirituality as a major constitutive element of the human being. From this point of view our investigation states firmly the repetability of the social processes and the inner being of human spirituality. These principles, as they reveal themselves in the particular areas of research – study of religions, history, politics, sociology and education, psychology, economy and medicine - can be considered as having an objective existence which has to be taken into account.

2. Defining notions

Spirituality can be defined as the totality of human (both inner and exterior) activities which are associated with the person’s need of achieving the absolute understanding of his existence and purpouse of life, beyond physical space and time.

Globalization is, in fact, a historical process of communicating by any means, between human cultural paradigms, usually defined by the presence of at least two partners: the dominante element - as a stronger or higher paradigm; the dominated element - the weaker or the lower paradigm (not always the dominated element is a lower paradigm, from the contrary, but from the historical point of view, the military foreign power becomes prominent over it for a certain period of time). Always the weaker paradigm received influences and was modified by the stronger one (or vice versa the “weaker” military, economically paradigm transforms gradually its “occupant” because it is, in fact, older and stronger). It is a natural process of human expansibility thatPage 407 involves a cross-interaction of different levels of existence: spiritual, intelectual, moral, psychological, sociological, economic and physical ones. Usually, the expanding of a paradigm is realized on interest grounds being associated with globalization. The entire history of mankind is a permanent process of globalization between territorial structures or inside them.

As we have just defined the two notions, we can notice that, practically, the social structure is always forced to support globalization as a process of permanent transformation of values as they are accepted as “the new laws”. „The new laws” are always a result of globalization. Nobody says that they are better but they are newer and perhaps, more effective, in the vision of the dominante power.

2. a Social levels of spiritual activity

We can divide the spiritual life in a scheme which is connected to the concrete reality of human behavior:

(a) Inner life - is the psychological self-representation of spirituality and the inner call of our own conscience, activity that appears as a response to life and existence and goes beyond them;

(b) Family group - is the first associative spiritual congregation based on a blood relationship;

(c) Social group - is the common and general place of incounter between individuals.

These levels are placed in an organised religious, ritual or social scheme associated to a certain cult or movement. These are the levels in which the exponents of a certain spiritual doctrine are congregated in a social structure.

2. b Levels of globalization

Even if the globalization process affects in the same way the social structures there being no differences in its mechanism, it takes different forms correlatively with its manifestation level. In a spiritual form, we see it as syncretism which mixes different and heterogenous values in a “mixtum compositum”. From the moral point of view, it represents a liberalization or an open mind perspective applied in social decisions. Sexually, globalization brings the liberty of sex and liberty of transsexual relations, adoption of children by gay families, etc., moment in which we enter into controversial areas. It reveals itself in the economic processes as an international corporatism or off-shored companies and can have the form of an intellectual process of standardizing individuality towards a homogenous conception about life and existence. It brings also a massive fracture inside families whose members have to stay apart in different foreign countries to get more money for supporting their home relatives. Globalization is also a process of doubling the quantity of information at every five years. And the examples can continue.

From these mentioned above, we can notice that globalization is a paradoxical double faced phenomenon. On one side, peoples can communicate better, can come into a closer contact by improving their styles of life; but on the other side, peoples are facing a survival problem being absorbed into the globalization dynamics. Complex questions regarding the development, the regression, the degeneration or alienation of the human species can be put here. In another words we can say that globalization can be simply reduced to globalize or be globalized in the process.

2. c Novelty and efficiency

The main cause of globalization is the power achieved by a state or a nation which becomes bigger than the power of another state or nation. Becoming stronger, a nation tends to extend its interests over the weaker geographical areas in the purpose of controlling more territories. The “civilization” process which is by itself a controversial issue can be extended by globalization in the conditions in which the new “civilized” ones keep their originary identity and do not loose itPage 408 becoming a prospective image of the globalizing nation – just an island of the mother state/region. Another explanation of globalization can refere to the effectiveness of the mother-state or regional organization, to a better organization of its human and natural resources or to a political and economic expanding need in order to pursue self-supporting activities (getting more oil, timber or any types of primary resources) through methods of peaceful economic “war”.

The novelty is based usually on an ideological or political, even religious framework designated to be the cover-front of the expansion. Any expansion needs a moral cover and usually there are always present arguments like poorness, starvation, tyranic leaderships or anything else, which must be eliminated for the “general benefit”. In the last thousands of years of known history, no state or power was interested in fortifying its oponents but in weakening them in a process entitled “making of sattelite nations” or “boarder nations” designed to protect the center of the “imperium”.

On the other hand, we have to understand that there is no good or bad globalization. The only element of objective judgement is the real fulfillment of the individual or social needs on a five level pyramid of values (physiological needs, security, social adherence, professional fulfillment and self-fulfillment). Unfortunately the most prominent aspect of globalization is represented by the economic side which becomes stronger and stronger everyday. Capitals become more important than people and people’s needs becom lesser interesting for the corporative international societies. It is the place and time to say that globalization must be an achievement of better solutions in solving peoples’ problems not in creating new ones like the new type of social free will “deportation”, this time based on economic grounds in which people are obliged to leave their own land from economic reasons to prospect new alternatives in other geographical areas.

3. Power and submission

Both spirituality and globalization are connected to the notion of power.

In this context, we can say that spirituality has two facets – one oriented vertically as a natural process of developing human being towards...

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