09.10.2004Charlotte Wiedemann - Ghazala IrfanAcross Continents
Ghazala Irfan, 9 October 2004
Dear Charlotte Wiedemann,
I would be the last person to advocate a clash of civilizations or subscribe to a "us" & "them" paradigm. Neither do I agree that dialogues between cultures are necessary but impossible (MacIntyre).
To me all humanity also implies humanitarianism. The latter is not the exclusive prerogative of the western outlook. In any case the spectrum of knowledge has had many contributors, each civilization adding to the depth and diversity of the human enterprise. No one can claim it entirely.
Please do not get me wrong: decadence is not being attributed to the west. Neither is exploitation characteristic solely of the west. I would hate to be accused of branding you or the west as 'untrustworthy apostles of humanitarianism'.
Personally I would like humanity to be taken as one without dividing it into the Orient & the west (as being done in your letter). That, however, seems to be a dream for the present, and therefore distant and remote from reality.
At least theoretically we should subscribe to the concept of a common humanity. Perhaps one day a common danger might unite us only that would be out of fear rather then love but hopefully it will mature into a positive bonding.
In the ultimate analysis security issues cloud all the others but even self-presentation can extend itself to include others. After all social life may well be a zero sum game. If one loses, we all lose. But then, as a student of philosophy, I keep returning into prescribing rather than describing.
You, on the other hand, keep bringing me back to the context of reality on the ground: the political scenario that heralds doom and gloom. I happen to be an incorrigible optimist for to lose hope is to lose all. Why be divisive in thought, even if there seem to be unbridgeable divides?
You mention the schism between reality and perception. Yes we refuse to confront facts. Instead comforting fairy tales, whether of religions or superstitions origin, prevail; And we continue to deceive ourselves and thus live in 'bad faith' (existential). And so I see no reason why we cannot disagree with each other and yet respect each other’s views or life styles.
It was a pleasure to dialogue!