Building bridges between cultures can involve many challenges, so the first subject I will address is: Why do this work? Answers important to me include: human survival, achieving prosperity through trade, compassion (especially for those who suffer, like refugees of war and relatives separated by politics) and achieving “the good life” spiritually as well as materially. All of these objectives benefit from a principle of living systems called “hybrid vigor.” These concepts will be illustrated by a few examples.
Human civilization is facing a terrible crisis. It is a crisis of population growth combined with excessive consumption by the rich, which results in serious environmental problems and severe competition for the means of survival. Combined with other strains of politics, both normal differences of opinion about how to organize social life and more serious issues of corruption of governance and tyranny, this results in many wars (about 25 – 30 each year during the 23 years I have studied that subject). On the average half a million people die each year directly from these wars. Suffering from dispersed effects like refugee migrations and malnutrition related to the economic costs of these conflicts affects hundreds of millions every year. Human civilization is groaning in pain, but powerful psychological and social defenses exist that keep most people from hearing that pain clearly.
It is the business of biologists to attend the living system. I testify before you that the living system itself is in danger because of these problems. If you need convincing I will gladly spend another hour or a day on that alone, because in my country at least, there are always excuses for taking just a little bit more from the living system despite its obvious distress. But our business today is building bridges between cultures, so I will return to that now with the simple observation that if the living system of earth is in trouble, human beings are in trouble. Human survival may even be at risk. So one reason to build bridges between cultures is to restrain people from blowing up the world with nuclear weapons, or despoiling it with endless conventional wars and the new, exotic biological and chemical weapons.
Long ago I was a medical geneticist at a major University hospital. One reason I switched to why wars begin was what I knew about biological weapons 25 years ago. We have come a long way since then, and it is not a pretty picture. But even without such exotic weapons, the annual death rate from ordinary bombs and bullets should be plenty to inspire us to build some bridges to a better future for us all.
A positive reason for building bridges is the prospect of increasing prosperity through trade. Now, I will venture a small observation on Korean politics. I apologize if I offend anyone. It is very sad to read about starvation in the North at the same time we read about fear created by Taepo-Dong II missiles, and a million-man army. Therefore, it was a happy day when we read about a new “sunshine policy,” and I was pleased when your President Kim Dae Jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifelong work for a better future.
This was the framework for I presentation I gave in support of "Sunshine" Pollicies intended to lead toward eventual reunificantion of North and South Korea.in 2002. These took place at colleges and one engineering technical group. It addresses the civilizational issues elsewhere described as the "developing global crisis," of corruptions of governance at a time of rising populations and conflicts over resources. A problem solving tone prevails throughout. It was published in Korean by the sponsoring Busan National University, but not in English anywhere.
Busan National University in Busan, ROK
Andregg, Michael M..
Building Bridges Between Cultures.
Busan National University, South Korea.
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