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Modernization -Globalization- Culture

This is an excellent example of paper 2 by Kelly Sittser - Winter 2010

As Americans we believe to view our way of life as the best way to live. We have developed technology that makes life easier for us. You want to talk to a friend send them a text message, you want to go out and take photos poof your digital camera will not only take the photo but you will be immediately able to see the image. We can log into a number of social networks to say "hello" to any acquaintances or family members that maybe on your friends list. We are a society that loves technology so much so that actual personal relationships seem to be a thing of the past. In American culture we tend to place value in materials, looks, and science/technology. The core family value is a thing of the past, education is not nearly important as it use to be; it seems more like a fashion show. Who's wearing the latest and greatest fashions? Parents give kids credit cards as a way to show their children that they are loved. Where are the family traditions that are to be passed down? Have we lost all core values that make us lose sight of a true family culture?

America is a country that believes it leads the way into the future. We have the best of the best in everything. America often feels superior in the way it lives The American Culture has began to descend into the farthest corners of the world. It seems as though it has been decided if you aren't living like us then you are behind on the times. We don't like to leave people behind in our efforts to make people more "civilized." After all what could a first class nation of inventors do to make all other life on this planet easier? We surely can bring all people into the modernized world. What happens to those other people who aren't apart of the current modernized first world countries? Do these more powerful nations take it upon themselves to bring to them new technologies and ideas on how people should live? What should these people lose if in fact we modernize them into a way of life that may not work for them? In reading "The Pressure to Modernize," by Helena Norberg- Hodge, I couldn't help but think about these questions.


In the example of the Ladakh people modernization seems to have torn a very deeply rooted culture into two pieces. Within culture there is tradition, traditions that are passed down from each generation. Those traditions are what make a community thrive. These people have held true to their roots, for more generations than first world nations have been alive. They understand the lay of their land and know how to cultivate what they need to survive. They take no more and no less than what is given to them. They have strong family connections to each other, and understand how population works within their community. Even money plays different role in their society. The Ladakh basic needs for shelter, food, and so on could be met without money. In the article it was cited as "The labour one needed was free of charge, part of an intricate web of human relationships." I thought that part was an interesting observation. That everyone's needs could be met without using money but relationships between people.


In the modernized world we hold no idea to a true concept of community like the Ladakh have. The great divide will begin to spring fourth as the younger generation of Ladakh begin to take on Western modernization ideas. This is leaving their culture, traditions, and values even their native language behind. With the younger generation leaving behind the foundation on which their community is built how will this affect later generations?


Modernization and Globalization have been around longer than we can probably even realize. If we think back to the roots of America we can clearly see that at first we began to modernize and globalize the Natives that inhabited this land. It starts off slow, bringing western education to a people that were already educated in the ways of their land. Perhaps we begin to tell them their style of dress is primitive, so we begin to bring "western" style to them. Maybe we show them that it's better to live in a house versus what they live in. Modernization does not think of the damage it does to a community of people rich in traditions. Without a thought of what it might not only cost a people, but what it costs the earth to have these traditions broken.As with the case of the Native Americans it wasn't enough to modernize them into western culture, they ultimately have lost much more than western modernization has ever given to them.


As a modernized American I can feel within myself this loss of culture and community. I can't help but wonder what it is that I have missed out on having no real sense of community or tradition in my life. In the article it was mentioned how modernizing was making the younger generation of Ladakh people feel ashamed of their traditions and culture. However they lose a true sense of identity of where it is they come from. They are reaching out a culture that has no real basis in building traditions or culture. Western culture is based on the now, leaving no traditions to be passed down such as farming (which use to be the back bone of our country). I found myself searching for culture and community that has unity with instilled traditions and hard work. Often I've felt very rootless not sure of where I come from.


With modernization and globalization we stand to lose what little unity we have within those small communities that make them so valuable. We forget that our way of living might not be right for everyone. I sometimes wonder if it's right for Americans. I think perhaps we have a lot more to learn from these communities than we have to learn from modernizing.