19 September 2005

Moolaadé, moral and McDonald’s.

For a long time I have been searching for the answers to the moral, cultural, social and a political questions - Are people allowed to pressurise other cultures and peoples to change or leave their tradition if this was against basic human rights and immoral? and are moral laws universal? “Westerners” seemed to have felt like they have right to do as they wish and that the way they do things is, if not a perfect, then at lest the best way to get things done. So many might think why I am wasting my time with this question as the process has been ongoing for years, decades and even centuries. I feel it is still very relevant indeed.

At this point I must mention the reason why the whole question is in my mind at this particular moment. I just came home from cinema after seeing a Senegalise film “Moolaadé”. A fantastic film about women rising up against the female circumcision. The men in this very patronising community and culture are for the tradition and amongst all the other things they decide to burn all the radios as they believe that the women have gotten all the bad ideas from there. I liked the film a lot and I recommend it but I will not talk more about it here. I will not talk about female circumcision either as I do not have that much information about it except that as an idea it sounds rough, dangerous and pointless.

The idea that my way of doing things is better than the next persons regardless of the circumstances is a dangerous one. In my view it is the idea that has caused many wars and hindered the global politics. As an example I want to pay attention to the fact that it is the great nuclear powers that feel they have right to say to the other countries if they have or have not got a right to create these weapons or even enrich the uranium which might be used for energy or weapons. The reason is that as they are not sharing the “western” values they cannot be trusted. Maybe the likes of Iran should say that they do not want France to have nuclear arms as they are not sharing the values of middle east. I was raised in the so called western system and partly to its values so I feel that my analysis on which is better is subjective and therefore irrelevant.

When I was spending some time with San people, or Bushmen as they are generally known, in Kalahari I was puzzled with the question would they be better off with a formal education or not. They are one of the last tribes that has managed to keep their traditional ways. Well at least partly they have and I left with feeling we should leave them be. The trouble with that is for example that they have been exposed to HIV/Aids so should they be educated about safe sex before it spreads and if that is done then where do you draw the line that what should be taught and what should not.

I reckon the trouble often is that you cannot just go and get the economical gains and then leave. Like you cannot go and sell coke drink to someone and not to teach how to take care of your teeth. And most cultures has been exposed to the “west” and by no means I am not claiming “west” to be superior. I am just saying that we know how to make things look attractive and how to promote our values. Possibly the fact that the media is controlled by people from this culture has something to do with it. And the next question rises – If person from another culture idolises stars like 50cent because he/she has seen him being glorified by MTV, is the media or record company responsible to explain the cultural difference? A boy in war torn country might misunderstand the message of guns and diamonds and disrespecting the women. In this case we have apparently decided to import our worst assets.

While one might get the idea that I am mostly talking about the so called third world or clearly different countries this is not so. The same logic goes to countries like mine, Finland. English as a language is taking over and in the long run we will lose the smaller, what some might arrogantly call, less important ones and youth culture all over is a copy from the places that produce the films, music and TV. I love my own language (do not feel confused by the fact that I write in English) and want to contribute so that its life will be prolonged. It took me some years to understand the importance of my own culture. I would be very upset to see all people and all cultures completely melting into one. And McDonald’s would be on every street corner. Although considering the fact that never in the history of the world has two countries that have McDonald’s been in war against each others. So that could actually solve our problems. I still feel a bit cynical that peace would be what McDonald’s gave us. Maybe I am just a negative person.

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