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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Meeting the New: When Cultures Collide

An inescapable fundamental in our existence has always been change. Everything evolves, develops or turns into something else. True, there are some traditions, ideas, methods or ways of living that are "empty" or meaningless, becoming an anachronism as time goes by. These need to be discarded. Yet on the other side of the equation, when something new comes along, is it really the necessary or even welcome kind?

Case in point: the apparent rise of youth problems in Greenland -

It actually reminded me of something disturbingly familiar I had read some time ago about the small, land-locked, South Asian nation of Bhutan. It also faced similar societal challenges brought about by its opening to the world -

In my poor and shameless attempt at being an amateur anthropologist, I tried to attribute the similar geographic remoteness or isolation of both countries that made them less susceptible to the effects of the changing world. Did the remoteness of their locations afford them not to be desensitized as much as the rest of us? Maybe all this societal deprecation falls also on the rate it has influenced these peoples' consciousness. It would seem that all these effects have been felt in less than a generation. Would a gradual introduction to the outside have had a different impact?

I think its plain to see: change does not always translate into progress.

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