Say no to clash!
06 November, 2014
Say no to clash!
In his famous but highly controversial book ‘Clash of Civilizations’, Samuel Huntington, the well-known American political scientist who has notably influenced the world political thought, is suggesting six presumptions why the currently existent civilizations have a potential to clash: a) they drastically differ from each other in many respects, especially by the religions they practice; b) interaction in our small world is intensifying which increases awareness of those differences; c) modern economy and social change create gap between indigenous cultures and
the exigencies of survival; and the gap is usually filled by religion, thus uniting parts of the world by token of belonging to the same civilizations; d) the growth of civilization-consciousness instigates the confrontation between what we call the West and non-West, each wanting to shape the world in their own way; e) cultural individuality and differences are more difficult to hush and conciliate than political and economic disagreements; f) the increasing economic regionalism emphasizes the civilization consciousness. Now the question is if Georgia is the place where all those symptoms of clash of religions, cultures and civilizations are present and noticeable. Historically speaking and traditionally thinking, Georgia has always been a land where various cultures and religions have lived and survived in friendly and cooperative unison. Georgians are famous with their sense of tolerance towards the so called ‘others’, but at the same time the notion of ‘us and them’ has also persisted here. We have firmly known that ‘others’ can make good friends and neighbors, but we have also recognized – deep inside – that those ‘others’ are just others. Something like that! I remember I have often had an official duty to host foreign guests of Georgia. Trying to report to them how tolerant a people we are, I would take them to the older part of Tbilisi, and looking down at the ancient town from some elevation, I would proudly point at the cluster of various shrines, symbolizing Islam, Judaism, Orthodox Christianity and Gregorian Church, all in one small urban spot. And I was not lying to my curious and avidly listening visitors, although we the Soviets were prone to make use of ready-made prevarications when associating with foreigners – the result of insistent communist indoctrination! By the way, treating my guests with this historical veracity, I had never made an attempt to make account of the degree of tolerance which was entertained within that famous Georgian religious variety. The Soviet rule was a weird but very powerful rule. If it told you to love and tolerate somebody, you did it unquestionably. If the Soviet regime wanted Georgia to be recognized within certain boundaries, the country would live inside the defined borders with slavish consent, and nobody would dare to cross it ever. If the Soviets told the motley religious spectrum to treat each other with love and understanding, you better did exactly as you were told, or else... Those times are now forgotten – buried in memory – and all of us, be it Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists or the followers of Zarathustra, have ample individual or group freedom to administer their own cults as they think is right and good for them. And in this fulfilled religious freedom, conflicts occur at times, and some of these conflicts have enough religious and political charge to start introducing certain transformational necessities in the life of our society. Sometimes, the accidentally triggered changes tend to acquire unpleasant and dangerous development, which becomes very difficult to neutralize even if the governments interfere with a good intention to defuse the situations, qualified as explosive. Georgia seems to be susceptible to this kind of incidents, to put it mildly: Christian Orthodoxy is so orthodox that it has a problem with putting up with the equality between various schools of theological thinking. The universal Islamic tendency to show its vibrant power to the rest of the world is so much at hand that the words like Mosque, Jihad and Islamic State are becoming part of our household vocabulary. Jews are always in their famous classic contradiction with their biblical Muslim brothers and sisters. Various protestant denominations that are amply represented in Georgia are also in hot controversy with those who are around to perpetuate their own ways and beliefs. In a word, tolerance per se seems to be only symbolic here. In reality, based on recent examples of confrontational activity between various religious groups and the personalities, representing those groups, there is more hypocrisy and double-standard bustle going on now than ever before. Most of the more-or-less known prerequisites of confrontational tendencies are being discussed worldwide, Georgia included. Some of the reasons could very well be ascribed to famous Huntingtonian presumptions, but theoretical explanations and interpretations of the situation are not helping much. Things are mostly happening on the grass-roots level, and the preventive prophylactics will have to be applied practically on a local level. In those conflicts people are involved – regular nice people mostly – who do not even suspect that they might be governed from somewhere else – the places that are not easily accessible. My mysterious tone might be sounding a little weird for a serious article like this, but my concerns are not funny at all. The fierceness of culturally and religiously based confrontations is directly proportional to the clout and intricacy of the powers that have the ropes firmly in their hands. I cannot make any direct allegations and allusions at this time, but I know that the occurring clashes cannot happen without a certain financial and ideological support. The ongoing westernization of this country may seem to be quite agreeable and beneficial to one part of the world, whereas the other part might be of a totally different opinion. Do I not have a reason to suspect that the mentioned ‘other part’ has its own plans and ambitions about Georgia? Meanwhile, I would give an undelayed heads-up to my compatriots and fellow citizens of all faiths – Christian and Muhammadan in the first place – that love is more constructive than hatred for building our plain human happiness. Shouldn’t we sooner listen to our own hearts than to the trained treacherous tongues of those who are making a real cat’s paw out of us the gullible believers? Come on folks, say no to clash until it is too late! Personally, I hate to be dictated, and lead by the nose.


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