Friday, June 17, 2005

but it would be a good idea

Reporter to M.K. Gandhi: What do you think of Western Civilization?
M.K. Gandhi to Reporter: I think it would be a good idea.

The above comment came up in the course of a late-night conversation on which civilization is the most "culturally advanced" (whatever that means).

It seems to me that it is rather difficult to come up with truly objective standards for the level of progress achieved by a certain group of people. My take on it is that people make what they value and value what they make. If they are Westerners who value speed and efficiency then they will invent microwave ovens and digital watches. And then they will proceed to pat themselves on the back for inventing microwave ovens and digital watches. If they are Middle Easterners or Indians and value spirituality then they will found major religious traditions and then pat themselves on the back for founding major religious traditions.

(It never ceases to trip me out that between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, not to mention those that follow nearby religions like the followers of Elijah Muhammad, Rastafarians, Hebrew Israelites, Mormons, Mandeans, Karites, Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahais, Druzes, Samaritans, Noachides etc. most Earthlings are in religions which are connected to Abraham somehow. And then between Buddhism, Hinduism, the Sikh faith and the Jain religion, most of the rest follow religious paths coming out of India.)

For some reason, those digital watches are looking less and less impressive.

I remember certain intellectuals trying to make a sharp distinction between civilization and technology. It's one thing to have neat gadgets but the real hallmark of civilization lies in how people are treated.

Other Gandhi Quotes

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