The Boundaries of a Global Society

It is easy to believe that there is a global society, given the ease with which we can communicate our values, ideas, and beliefs to most of the people of the world. We can view, listen to and read the values, ideas and beliefs of most of the people of the world, giving us the impression that all real cultural, social, and physical boundaries have disappeared.

World travel allows a physical presence and experience of various levels of life in most of the countries of the world. Satellite based broadcasting, internet video caches, and even stationary cameras allow humans to view the major events, mundane activities, and glimpses of major catastrophes that occur in most places in the world. But it only takes one snafu with the passport, or visa to remind us that the sociopolitical boundaries between humans in the world are formidable and real.

Where the major news sources give a surface glimpse, online versions of newspapers that cover most of the major cities of the world are available to give detailed accounts of the goings on in other countries, their regions and even their small towns and villages.

There are, however, plenty of physical, cultural, and social boundaries to serve as reminders that we are no where near a unified global society. We are a group of sovereign nations, each with it’s own boundaries of culture, beliefs, values, norms, economies and ideals. Nothing reminds us more of that than to go to Europe, where countries that are the size of American states have vast differences in language, the way that buildings are built, in government, in historical and current relations, and even in the food that is commonly eaten. It is astounding to go, in one day, from potatoes with every meal, to pasta with every meal; from German to standard Italian; from driving with the idea that everyone and everything has a right to be on the road, to driving with the idea that stopping for anything will cause a pileup.

There are more than enough reminders in wars, rumors of wars, and in the aftermath of wars, that we are far from a global society. There is enough political horror and turmoil in the world to remind us that most countries have political, economic, natural and social instabilities that can blow up into chaos at any time.

There are more than enough reminders to each of us, no matter who we are and no matter where we are, that boundaries exist to separate us based on our beliefs, values, culture, politics and norms, which are unappealing to huge numbers of other people in the world. There is no getting past the boundaries that are set by the major religions that profess to worship the same God, let alone between the cultures and races who worship within those religions.

It might be best to leave it at the fact that we have global communication, fact sharing, and travel, but in no way have we achieved a true global society, because the cultural, social, political, religious and cultural boundaries are well enforced, and they are all too real.