Republished on an International Affairs Magazine – Global Politics
The main source of hostility in the modern world is the widening gap between the most and least developed segments of human civilization. While some societies are exploring potential life on other planets, life has not changed much for others over the past millennium. Unlike in previous centuries, the permeation of modern day technologies makes interaction between these extremely divergent societies practically inevitable. Consequently, such vast disparities between the development levels of societies lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and eventually hostilities. Poverty, lack of access to educational institutions, and few political channels for expression in less developed communities create fertile grounds for ill-intended people to cultivate a sense of bitterness and hostility against more accomplished societies.
While in the past, various civilizations could develop separately without ever coming across each other, the modern day infrastructure for transportation and communication makes it almost impossible for any society to remain completely isolated. For example, up until the 13th century Chinese and European societies were largely unaware of each other. However, the total value of trade between China and the European Union is more than half a trillion dollars today.
From the industrial revolution to the technological and the digital revolutions to today’s information age, the world has changed immensely in the past 300 years. Today, a small kid somewhere in a rural village of Syria has access to more information through a small cell phone device in his hands than any library could afford a few decades ago. There were times when people were travelling for months from one country to another to have access to a tiny bit of information that is now available over the internet.
In the developed world, these technological transformations have been reflected in every aspect of human life, as they have been paralleled by social, economic and political reform. Though, people in less developed communities have not experienced any of these holistic transformations, they still have gained access to the latest achievements of modern industries. This presents an opportunity for malcontents to manipulate the populations of lesser developed communities that do not have access to proper educational and political institutions.
Citizens of these communities have often not attended schools or had an opportunity to learn why past societies have tried and failed to establish religious kingdoms. These citizens rarely have access to political instruments through which they may express their grievances or defend their rights. They are often unaware of the struggles and sacrifices of the millions who have fallen in the fight for the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms that citizens of modern democratic societies enjoy today.
Radical extremist groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and others use the ignorance and despair in such communities to cultivate hatred towards more fortunate societies. Unfortunately, an entire generation is now growing up in this darkness of hopelessness. Millions of children in those war torn communities have never had the luxury of care and sympathy. How do we think they will fit in the modern civilization?
Religion becomes their only shelter and escape from the harsh realities of life. Without proper education and political channels of expression, these people often fall prey to radicalization. Their perspective of religion, formulated in the extreme conditions of ignorance and despair, becomes their only prism for interpreting life around them. Eventually, they do not want to fit in and adapt to the demands of the new world, instead on focusing on establishing their own world order.
In today’s globalized world, we are growing closer and closer to each other no matter how different our lives are. We are all only one email, one phone call, or one flight away from each other. As recent events demonstrate, if we do not reach out to less-developed communities and try to change their lives for better, they will continue to reach out and change the world around us.