To date, this was my favorite course. I have a dream of traveling the world. Being a seasoned traveler also helped. Below is my leadership portfolio assignment for this month. I will let it talk for me, as it appropriately articulates what I believe and I do not wish to repeat myself.
Globalization: The Death of the Village Voice
Whenever we speak about globalization we are trained to think positively about how we are now connecting with and doing business with people all over the world at the leisure of simply connecting to the Internet. We associate the word globalization with cultural integration and “A Global Village.” Why then are those most directly impacted by the forces of globalization living in actual villages? Many would argue that globalization has greatly benefited us as a people. Us being established first-world industrialized nations. But what about the rural peoples living in Tibet, Ecuador or the mountains of Pakistan? Some argue, of which I agree that globalization is really the death of culture or at least a homogenization of culture. What is also important to note is while underdeveloped nation states are becoming more and more westernized in thinking and industrialized in landscape, there is still a very drastic difference in power struggle, class and access to technology, known as the digital divide. This digital divide puts those in impoverished regions even lower on the totem pole. Separating them further from access to information technology, modernized heathcare and the inability to express themselves fully through educational and academic outlets.
Being an aspiring documentarian I chose to watch several speeches given by documentary filmmakers, as well as photographers and one individual with solutions to rethink the digital divide. The speeches all began to center around one topic, which I found to be the most intriguing: The preservation of culture as a benefit to humanity.
What resounded to deeply for me was the concept of the “death of language.” In 1950 it was documented that over 6,000 individual languages were spoken around the world. Today, less than 60 years later less than half are still taught to children. With the death of a language begets the death of a way of life most often deeply rooted in community, and family. The death of a language represents the death of a unique voice in the world, with unique way of describing the human journey.
What is amazing is that pre 1950 these languages, which have been spoken for centuries passed down generation to generation, were not endangered. Albeit the idea of exploiting and indebting indigenous laborers for the gains of larger civilizations is not a new concept (dating back as long as recorded history), it was only until the rise of global communities later in the 50’s with the interests of the industries of the west in mind, where aboriginal ways of life were put under fire by indirect virtual slave masters. Cultures are destroyed not because they decided to one-day stop being a culture, but because of a power greater than themselves ripping their inheritance away from them.
National Geographic Explorer, Wade Davis explains that it is important to track, document and preserve indigenous ways of life. He claims the Ethnosphere is equally as important as the biosphere.
“The Ethnosphere can be described as being the sum total of all thoughts, dreams, myths, inspirations and ambitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. The Ethnosphere is humanities great legacy. It’s a symbol of all that we are, and all that we can be as an inquisitive species.”
“We all sing, we all dance, we all have art. What’s interesting is unique cadence of the song, the rhythm of the dance in every culture.”
The notion of documenting this Ethnosphere, this unique rhythm and cadence is now my primary focus for my business model, if only to aid in preserving what is left of human creativity and inspiration, aboriginal culture and indigenous way of life. The tricky part is getting other people to watch and enjoy. This concept of “edutainment” must accompany a very real and serious program.
World-renowned photojournalist and documentarian for The Discovery Channel, Phil Borges is working on just this issue. He and a team of other Discovery Communications individuals have started a company called Bridgesweb.org. This portal acts as a bridge between indigenous teenagers in tribes with middle and high school students in major US cities. The intention is for both cultures to learn about one another. They also teach digital story telling to indigenous teenagers, giving them access to film equipment and technology, and enabling them to share their lives with others around the globe. The goal is to have a multi-cultural experience for all groups of teenagers making them aware at a young age the importance of tolerance and working together globally. The ultimate goal is to “give indigenous people a voice.”
“Getting kids used to different realities is so important… Having a mental flexibility to different belief systems and different realities is so necessary in the world today as you see this clash of beliefs taking hold. “
This is the most ideal form of globalization. The problem is that the technology is not out there for most of these people who really could benefit from it.
Hector Ruiz and a team of engineers and Internet developers are working on what they call 50 by 15. Stating that by 2015 they will have the capacity to bring information technology to 50% of the underdeveloped world. Including network mainframes, communication grids, personal computers and modern healthcare systems. He states that, “Technology is only useful when it is accessible and affordable.”
Giving underdeveloped and impoverished peoples the same technologies, closing the digital divide will only aide these people and help them preserve their heritage. Allowing them to put forth a voice in this planet will help close the gap between what we in the west consider developed and civilized. Being a responsible documentarian means to show the natural conditions in which these cultures truly live and show the humanity within them. It is my goal to not only go out and meet them, experience their lives and their culture through music and art but also give them an opportunity to be heard on a global arena. Allowing these artists and musicians the ability to share their stories of hardship, plight, war, happiness, love, passion and artistic release, allowing these indigenous people to be enjoyed and revered as fellow human beings within our great ethnosphere, and not just forgotten or not thought about cheap labor or victims of war torn nations is our mission. This is important to me not only as a documentarian but as a business leader, corporate citizen, world citizen, entrepreneur and as an entertainer.
Borges, P. (2008, 7 1). Documenting Our Endangered Cultures . Retrieved 2 10, 2009, from TED.com: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/phil_borges_on_endangered_cultures.html
Davis, W. (2008, 7 1). Cultures at the Edge of the World. Retrieved 2 10, 2008, from TED.com: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/wade_davis_on_endangered_cultures.html
Ruiz, H. (2008, 7 1 ). The Power to Connect the World . Retrieved 2 10, 2009, from TED.com: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/hector_ruiz_on_connecting_the_world.html