Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Upset and globalization

Various pundits and commentators state the opinion that the rise and tone of Donald Trump and the advisory vote by the British public to leave the European Union are both related to general feelings of fear and dislike of globalization.  Anyone can see the large number of products on sale locally that are marked "Made in China".  Many of our automobiles and electronic devices are made in Japan or other Asian countries. Quite a bit of our clothing is made in South America or Asia.

It is common to say that our nervous systems have two basic components: rational thinking and visceral reactions.  The title of the Noble prizewinner's book gives a clue: "Thinking: Fast and Slow".  The fast part is the immediate reaction part and it is tightly related to our emotional structure and to speed for handling immediate dangers.  The slow part is the pondering, thinking and re-thinking part related to questioning, evidence gathering and evaluation, and critical questioning.  We have both in us and we need both but they can conflict.  Our basic reactions, like fear and distrust of those who seem insufficiently like us, those who look different, those who speak a different language, dress differently can prod us into conflicts and cause damage and loss.

One aspect of greater longevity is that we have more people who experienced and remember other times and other ways.  Just today, my brother-in-law sent me a picture of the old fashioned way to take a selfie of yourself and a friend.  We older folks know that this picture is a little off and we never used that method but we can remember living without electricity, without running water.  We can easily get upset when we see big changes happening all around us.  Our alarms turn on and we start worrying: What will become of us? What is happening?  Will we be all right?

The human dispersion from Africa to every part of the globe seems to have basically taken place over the last 100,000 years.  During that time, our kind were more or less isolated by distance and customs and time.  It is only recently that we have been able to see and hear others almost instantly from any part of the planet.  It is going to take a while for us to get used to all being one big group.  Check back in another 100 years (2116) to see how we are doing.

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