Home Activities Regional Activities Europe Georgia and countries of Caucasus Series of conferences-debates,Tbilissi, October 2004
Published on 1 July 2005
New humanism and diversity of cultures
Conference-debate at the Academy of Sciences, 27th October 2004
In her presentation of the Charter, Edith laid particular emphasis on the differences that exist between the world’s cultures, differences which don’t, however, prevent cultures from acknowledging common principles. It was this topic that carried the most resonation.
Vazha Keshelava, director of the Institute for Political Science, offered many of his thoughts on the Charter, which he had studied in depth.
You used the term utopia. I think humanity will never do anything without utopia. It’s impossible to only live in reality. Humanity has to live with the idea of a future, we Georgians in particular need to. It’s our hopes that we live for.
We can fully accept everything you have said and this should be reflected in concrete terms. This initiative could motivate people not to stop at their verbal agreement but to do more.
It may be that the concept of utopia frightens us. That’s why I would like to change it and call it “new humanism”. I would also suggest that you don’t separate the individual and society, but find a harmony between the two – that’s what I understand by new humanism
This last point was not so much a response to Edith’s presentation as a refusal of the past. It was a way of emphasising that the terms utopia and collective were misused in the soviet era which neglected humanist values.
Respect for diversity and globalisation
I completely agree with the idea of a third pillar that of Human Responsibilities alongside the United Nations Charter and the universal Declaration of Human Rights. But there are still hurdles. For myself and probably for each and every one of us here, it’s important to ask the question of how diversity can be protected
I think globalisation is going to swallow up this diversity – it could be a new “utopia”. I don’t think we can be optimistic about the process of globalisation. “I want to keep my country from the globalisation process, I would rather my country chose diversity and fought against globalisation.”
We emphasised the risks of political and economic globalisation, pointing out that traditional Georgian values responded in fact much better to the challenges of the future than western lifestyles do, which are considered as a model throughout the world. Edith affirmed that all over the world people are afraid of losing their identity. The globalisation process leads to the same problems everywhere, particularly in the realm of ecology. But globalisation also represents an opportunity: there is something wonderful in being able to speak with one another, discover our differences, our richness and also discover that we see eye to eye about some things. It is precisely diversity that makes it possible to find different solutions to common problems – problems of climate change, of living together, of democracy…”International civil society” most definitely wants to keep this diversity.
This was also an opportunity to talk about the risks that fear of losing one’s identity involves. All cultures evolve and change under influences from within and outside their culture. Refusing these influences can lead to fundamentalist attitudes. In reality, this is a sensitive subject in Georgia where certain movements, particularly within the Orthodox Church, advocate aggressive fundamentalism.
Freedom and responsibility
Responsibility forms part of the concept of freedom. When we talk about freedom, we think of responsibility. If we think about freedom without responsibility, it means that we have the right to do anything. I’m very pleased that now a new movement exists that is more interested in encouraging responsibility. It will make people understand the meaning of responsibility. It’s very important that this movement is initiated in Georgia. Sometimes when people think of freedom, especially in politics, they forget the concept of responsibility. Now citizens have to realise that actions have consequences and take political and legal responsibility. The only problem is that I don’t see what level of responsibility we are discussing. How does one become responsible? What are the concrete steps that we have to take? Is there a plan of action?
So Edith gave a very lively description of what is happening in other countries in the world where the Charter has served as an incentive for concrete initiatives.
The Charter is important, but even more important is finding a new way to discuss approaches to become responsible.