Sunday, September 10, 2006

In our wish to make all cultures look alike, we gloss over deep-seated differences.

"Today, in the West, there are no good excuses for religious belief - unless we think that ignorance, reaction and sentimentality are good excuses. This is of course not so in the East, where, we acknowledge, almost every living citizen in many huge and populous countries is intimately defined by religious belief. The excuses, here, are very persuasive; and we duly accept that 'faith' - recently and almost endearingly defined as 'the desire for the approval of supernatural beings' - is a world-historical force and a world-historical actor."

Now this was by Martin Amis in The Guardian newspaper in England. In the US, or in many other countries it would be an outrageous statement, but in the UK it was greeted with apathy. The fact that two countries may be English speaking and share many traditions does not mean that people think alike. Watching a British TV program, I am always struck by the differences in pace, script, and ways in which even sex and violence are treated. Clearly, the two countries are different. If this is so, how different are countries where language, religious tradition, literature, education, and politics are completely different?

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