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Species Identity

Raising Global Consciousness

A Four part Series

Research

Conflict, Diversity, and Species Identity
Prof. Elsie Boulding, Phd., Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World. Teachers College, Columbia University, New York and London, 1988, Ch. 4, p. 56-74.

Civics and an Emerging World Civic Culture

Introduction

"What is civic culture, and what does it have to do with thinking about the planet? Civic culture represents the pattern of how we share a common space, common resources, and common opportunities and manage interdependence in that "company of strangers" (Palmer, 1981) which constitutes The Public. It has to do with the interactions that create the sense of a common public interest." When we think about civic culture, we are usually thinking about our own society. But there is a large company of strangers (7.753 billion, 2020 estimate) now residing on the planet. We must begin to perceive a common interest in maintaining a public framework for the global community, within which we can live our lives as members of one family.

Core Organization Functions

Our entire organization and its core functions are based on and characterized by the oneness of humankind—the principle that guides us and encourages us to explore the various aspects of what constitutes human development, all social experiences and, in the process, find ways to advance the species to the point where it realizes a state of consciousness that's global in scope. In this regard, we strive to reveal those unifying human characteristics and inherent spiritual qualities to form the bedrock for our various projects and programs.

Global Civic Culture

Prof. Boulding’s work on global civic cultural dovetails nicely with the ideas, concepts, and principles we espouse. She uses the concept of ‘global civic culture’ as means to engage various social constructs that, we believe, find a place within the concept of ‘human species identity’. Prof. Boulding’s ideas on certain issues are presented below, to include our thinking, ideas, and views that expands the overall narrative within the context of global human development.

Global Civic Culture
Civics is defined as “the study of the rights and duties of citizenship”, but Prof. Boulding writes in a unique way about civics, about what she describes as an emerging ‘world civic culture’ that places “civic” and “culture” together within a global context to present the concept: “global civic culture”.

Prof. Boulding: “Is it possible for human beings to develop a species identity that will not override, but rather crown, their other identities? The concept of a global civic culture requires the acceptance at some level of a shared identity with other human beings.” [1]

“To explore this problem we will look at some of the major categories of issues that have been the basis of divisions among humans: ethic and racial identity, religious identity, and—of another dimension but relevant to our problem—gender identity. Then we will consider the bases for developing a shared civic identity across differences on a global scale in various civilizational traditions, and reflect on what a species identity might look like.” [2]

Prallagon. The concept of global civic culture provides us latitude to make social imagination work, to consider new concepts and principles, and in new ways to help us grasp complexities perhaps we have yet to fully comprehend. It will help us to construct new social realities, both locally and globally in order to further the process of human development in a global context. This expansion of our perspective is a useful tool to help us grasp the complexities of situations, circumstances, and events that now shape our world. Resources for new thinking along these lines comes from new perspectives gained but generally not seen or taught in today’s educational systems.

Ethic and Racial Diversity

Prof. Boulding asserts that “The very concept of civic culture comes out of the experience of conflict and diversity”; i.e., that which arises due to impositions on ethic and racial diversity by the dominating majority.

Prallagon. However, we see ethic and racial diversity as harmonious agents key to social transformation. Their inherent capacities, creative talents and abilities, now mostly dormant, in the future, when awakened and with proper guidance, will developed to fruition; at which time humanity will begin to reap the benefits of its new ‘self-reality’.

Prof. Boulding: “If modernity has been associated with integration, ethnic and racial particularism have been considered tribal and backward—something that existed primarily in Africa and Asia. Yet today we find a vigorous revival of ethnic, cultural, and racial particularism in the ‘advanced’ societies of the West. Whether in the form of a peaceful cultural revival or as a violent demand for political autonomy, such movements are now under way everywhere. In the North there is a nostalgia for the old days when people shared common values, when immigrants could be counted on to disappear into the melting pot and become assimilated. There is [now] a fear of social fractionation.” [3]

Prallagon. Since these words were written in 1988, immigrants disappearing “into the melting pot and become assimilated” is no longer a viable possibility, given the recent and continuing mass influx of mostly non-white immigrants from least developed nations into largely white-dominated Western societies.

Prof. Boulding: “Another way of looking at this phenomenon is to see the underlying process of dealing with diversity as the same in countries of the North as in the South; to consider present unrest in the North as an indication that the former civic culture now being pined for had in fact been so imperfectly developed that it is now going through a necessary redevelopment period.”[4]

“What communities of ethnic minorities everywhere, on what ever continent, all have in common, whatever their phase of historical development, is that they have been excluded to varying degrees from participation in national development processes on their own terms. They are all economically disadvantaged in relation to the mainstream population of their respective countries.” [5]

“The truth is that modern nation-states are not homogeneous at all, and have no prospects of becoming so in the near future.”[6]

“How can we speak of an emergent civic culture for the planet as a whole if there are so many separatist struggles and border disputes going on in the world? Since the need for common understanding and agreed-on ways of working together is more necessary now than it ever has been, the challenge is to find ways of working with the ethnic diversity problem rather than pretending it doesn’t exist except among [so called] “backward” people.” [7]

Prallagon. I remember a brief discussion I had with a diplomat from Ceylon when attending a sustainable development conference about the new concept of micro-crediti [i] held on campus at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor during the summer of 1993. [8] The diplomat’s comments were made in reference to newly released: The Clash of Civilizations?, a book by Prof. Samuel P. Huntington. [9] He believed Huntington’s hypothesis [ii] was deeply flawed with great potential to disrupt world affairs, viewing the hypothesis only as a possible ‘roadmap’ for marginalized groups to incite violence, making prospects for peaceful solutions to disputes less attainable. The international community, academics, diplomats, governments officials and others were astir over Huntington’s conclusions, voiced similar concerns mirroring Prof. Boulding’s concerns. However, in hindsight, we view Huntington’s hypothesis not as a roadmap to inspire conflict but as a warning of possible future events if ways are not found to properly address ethnic and racial divisions, world-wide.

Prof. Boulding: “First we have to reconsider what ethnic and racial separatist movements actually mean. It is possible that they are not tribal throwbacks at all, but [fore-showings] of emergent structures [10]...responding to contemporary economic and social needs, using contemporary communication and mobilization techniques. Their strength lies in the traditional familistic and community-oriented infrastructure that all [non-assimilated] ethnic, racial, and cultural groups have retained[, and]...belong to the periphery and not to the center of their respective societies.”

Note: This is only an introduction to Species Identity. Continuation will include a four part series, each series laying foundation for a concious reality of human species identity. Each series will be available for review and download when completed. See: Access It Here, above.

Click below to search for publications referenced on this page:

Prallagon. Since ethnic groups have high willingness to survive hardships, in many cases, challenging social and economic problems (often succeeding) when local and national governments have been unable or show little interest in resolving, “the next development stage would appear to be a devolution of governmental power, passing it on to groups that are competent at the local level, with an accompanying willingness...[by them] to cooperate within an administrative system that recognizes their ability to do the job].” [iii]

Ethnic and racial divisions (tensions) find deep roots in an ages-old colonialism, a past that still emits noxious and infectious residue having systemic effect on modern-day societies; and compounded by prevailing animosities associated with tribalism that probably pre-date current historical records. Today, these challenges continue to replicate. They show no visible sign of diminishing the deleterious effects they have on humanity’s efforts to realize progressive achievements. In many instances also they pervade the inner workings of faith-based communities to damage interrelationships and any attempt to reconcile differences.

Religious Diversity

Prof. Boulding: “While ethnic groups are separatist, they are less often expansionist, preferring instead to look after their own. Religious groups, on the other hand, have highly complex sets of attitudes to and relations with people of other religions. All the major world religions—Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and others—contain two sets of teachings: the teachings about violence and holy war, and the teachings about the oneness of humankind. The holy war teachings are more visible in history, but the peace teachings never disappear from the record. Peace-teaching saints appear just often enough to ensure the survival of those teachings.”

Prallagon. The above presents an interesting set of challenges because it is not all-inclusive. However, we will focus our narrative on just two aspects: “holy war” and the “oneness of humankind”, the former being counterintuitive to universal peace, and the latter is the core principal to revolutionize our thinking in ways that make for progress and achievement.

First off, we make no attempt to interrupt religious scripture or become involved in religious controversy. It’s just that the concept of war, deemed ‘holy’ or not, has plagued us throughout recorded history, and involved all religious dispensations. Due to scientific discoveries during our recent past when nuclear power was first released, current technologies and those designated as advancing technologies, makes war, any war, no longer winnable, not for any people, any group, or nation-state. This became starkly evident when the world was made aware of the devastating effects of nuclear power when wrought upon humanity populations during the second World War.

At this momentous era in human history, we are called to mature understanding that the level of knowledge we now processes can be put to good use, to help humankind depart from a reckless pass and engage in the effort to bring about a promising future. Key this process is acquiring couscous reality of the oneness of humanity, the principle when seriously acted upon, over time will continually provide the level of knowledge and inspiration needed to plan, create, and implement innovative ways to realize progressive achievements.

Prof. Boulding: “Each religious tradition is badly handicapped by the polarization between the holy-war culture and the peace culture within it[,]...making it hard to find a middle ground.” And in reference to “John Bowker (1986), the anthropologies of each religion are so different, and the feelings about these anthropologies run so deep, that pragmatic conflict resolution which leaves belief systems intact is the only alternative to Armageddon. Pragmatic conflict resolution is what the international non-governmental organization, [11] the World Conference on Religion and Peace, [12] works at in its biennial world congresses and in its interim commissions” to accomplish. “Practical politics now require that the world’s major religious traditions to some degree work together to activate [a] reconciler image.” [iv]

Prallagon. Spiritual advisors are known to counsel their respective religious adherents of the need for them to incorporate spiritual principles into their daily lives in order to help resolve personal challenges, more religious leaders now conclude that there is a much broader requirement being asked of them, to assist in the effort to find creditable solutions to extremely difficult challenges often global in context. In this regard, increasingly more religious organizations, faith-based communities, and religious leaders are organizing venues, participating in dialogue, and championing forward-thinking programs all geared geared toward finding solutions to pressing social and economic problems, and that seen as global disorder.

Conclusion

We will to explore Prof. Boulding’s transitional work in a series of articles that follows the same subject-headings as outline in her work: Building a Global Civic Culture. [13] The four-part series provides a framework for achieving a conscious reality of human species identity. As each segment is completed, it will be posted and made available for download.

Suggested Reading

Boulding, E. (1979). Ethnic separation and world development. In Kriesberg (Ed.), Social movements, conflict and change (Vol. 2, pp. 259-281. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Hass, H. (1970). The human animal: The mystery of men's behaviour. New York: Putman.

Kropotkin, P. (1956). Mutual aid: A factor in evolution.. Boston: Porter Sargent. (Original published 1902).

Larson, A., & Jenks, W. (1965). Sovereignty within the law. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications.

Lerner, G. (1986)). The creation of patriarchy.. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mendlovitz, S. (1975). On the creation of a just world order. New York: Free Press.

Sorokin, P. (1950). Explorations in altruistic love. Millwood, NY: Krauss Reprint.

Footnotes

[1] E. Boulding, Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World. Teachers College, Columbia University, New York and London, 1988, Ch. 4, p. 56.

[2] Ibid., p. 56.

[3] Ibid., p. 56.

[4] Ibid., p. 57.

[5 ] Ibid., p. 57-58.

[6 ] Ibid., p. 58.

[7 ] Ibid., p. 58.

[8 ] The conference was organized in honor of Muhammad Yunus who had pioneered the concept of microcredit. Professor Muhammad Yunus, University of Chittagong, had launched a research project to study how to design a credit delivery system to provide banking services to the rural poor (originated in 1976, and now known as Grameen Bank).

[9] Samuel P. Huntington, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, and Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University.

[10 ] We believe these structures are merely one among many that constitute an emerging global ethos, a process where the combined energies of many components increase in proportion to birth new social realities; currently with guidance and managerial expertise.

[11 ] Boulding ascribes much importance to the work carried out by nongovernmental organizations and international nongovernmental organizations. Read: A Planet in Transition: The Nongovernmental Order, Peoples Associations, Ch. 3, p. 35-55.

[12 ] An international organization of representatives of the world's major religious traditions who meet to study and act upon global problems affecting peace, justice, and human survival.

[13 ] Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World. By Elise Boulding, Teachers College Press, Columbia Univ., New York and London, 1988, p. 56-74.

ENDNOTES

[i] Micro-credit, also called micro-banking or micro-finance, a means of extending credit, usually in the form of small loans with no collateral, to non-traditional borrowers such as the rural poor in undeveloped areas, an approach institutionalized in 1976 b y Muhammad Yunus, an American-educated Bangladeshi economist. He had observed that a significant percentage of the world’s population has been barred from acquiring the capital necessary to rise out of poverty, and set out to solve this problem through the creation of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

Grameen’s clients are among the poorest of the poor, many of whom had never possessed any money and relied on a barter economy to meet their daily needs. The Grameen approach is unique because the small loans are guaranteed by members of the borrower’s community; pressure within the group encourages borrowers to pay back the loans in a timely manner. Using micro-loans borrowers are able to purchase livestock or start their own businesses, and by 1996 Grameen had extended credit to more than three million borrowers (mostly rural women) and was the largest bank in Bangladesh with more than 1,000 branches. -Britannica.

[ii] Prof. Huntington states “...that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or economic”, but due to “great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural”.

[iii] Enter Prallagon’s Global Reach Initiative, implemented and carried out by it’s Field Units at the grassroots level, assigned with duties to educate and promote the acquisition of knowledge, experience, develop quality expertise, and galvanize collective effort to plan and bring to fruition local community based objectives to secure sustainable outcomes. To view the entire program follow this link: https://prallagon.com/global-reach-initiative/

[iv] On this point, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Religions for Peace and the EPI-WIN Faith Communities of Practice, recently hosted a global conference (20 Oct—3 Dec 2021) that looked at ‘Strengthening national responses to health emergencies: WHO, Religious Leaders, Faith-based Organizations, Faith Communities and National Governments’.  We now realize that in order to solve some of the challenging problems that confront humanity, a wide range of expertise and collective is required; in particular, spiritual insights into seemingly insurmountable problems provided by religious and faith-based communities.

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