Individualism and life in common

VI. A new stage in the process: post-modernity and globalization

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VI. A new stage in the process: post-modernity and globalization
Sociologists and thinkers today speak of a new context, characterized by overcoming of the absolutism of reason, by skepticism about the “conquests” of reason, along with an emphasis on other dimensions of the human being. Modernity valued the Ego, subjectivity. The key category was action, the capacity to transform, to change the world. However today’s reality is not what was promised. The reaction involves categories from other cultures and ways of thinking. Now the key category will be “relationship,” in a small controllable world, lived in the present moment (presentism). That makes possible pleasure, satisfaction and self-actualization without pretentions to anything definitive. Technology and neuroscience (a fruit of modernity) makes it possible to become oneself by making decisions, the consequences of which we can control to a certain point. These “small narratives” leave to one side the “great stories” that explain all of reality. We could say that excessive emphasis is placed on the individual as the one who fulfills himself through pleasure.
For our purposes it is enough to describe the situation. Our RL today involves all these different cultural moments at the same time. We experience elements of a “traditional” vision of RL along with elements of RL redefined by modernity and we also see aspects of so-called post-modernity being introduced into RL. The fundamental task is to appropriately discern in faith so as to retain what is good, purify what is damaged and incorporate or promote what is valuable.4

Another element to consider is globalization and local cultures. Today’s young people have characteristics that are common at a planetary level, even though that is probably truer as in terms of external manifestations rather than inner conviction. The process of globalization is based on the enormous capacity of the media of social communication and the capitalist economy to adapt themselves to new situations. Demographic growth, immigration and the growth of urban populations also play a role.

This is something that cannot be ignored that also influences in our RL. More concretely, the RL typical of modern congregations has an international dimension. In some ways globalization favors the international dimension but also has a negative effect. A result of globalization is the assimilation of urban culture and the abandonment of elements proper to traditional cultures (usually more sensitive to communal values). There is the risk of losing many of the values of local cultures and of one’s cultural identity becoming vague. This is the tension in which we find ourselves, between internationality and incarnation, between global congregational identity and the particular identity of the community/region where we live our religious vocation day to day.

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