Sunday, 7 January 2007

2:7 How can you survive the rush of global change?

In all this onrush of technologies and shifting politics you have to live with a double knowledge. On the one hand it is important that you distance yourself from your own history and culture sufficiently to be able to realize that the old racist, gendered, nationalist, stereotypes are largely based on misunderstanding. You are a world citizen and you share your beginnings with everyone else on the planet.

Yet while we are battered by all our new knowledge and have the sense that we are pawns in a huge world game, we should not resign ourselves to being shifted around the board. We may easily become cynical. We may come to believe that there is no such thing as truth, that impartiality is a fiction, that reality does not exist, that all observation is deeply biased, that all theories are based on political prejudice.

All these doubts are half right. We have to be wary of those who tell us that they have found the truth, the right way, the over-arching purpose. Yet without a belief that truth, rightness and purpose can be found, or at least pursued, much of our life becomes pointless.

After all is said and done, you remain the unique, never-anticipated, utterly amazing and extraordinary Lily to whom I am writing these Letters. There has never been anyone like you on earth before, nor will there ever be again. That this is true of every other person on the planet does not diminish the wonder.

So, through knowledge of how much around you is just an invention and creation, you should be in a better position to enjoy the world. In particular you can unmask the ignorance which lies behind so much savagery and prejudice. You can interpret and may even change the world if you realize how much of it is not ‘natural’, that is given and unalterable, but ‘cultural’, that is invented and imagined into existence by humans.

When you read the rest of these Letters, please remember that what I shall be explaining is how our particular, English, world was invented. This English world is not intrinsically better than any other invention or path through history. I explain it to you because it is our world. Many people in other places have been born into equally valid but very different circumstances. They will read this account with surprise and not necessarily envy us in every respect.

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