There is perhaps no greater struggle today than that of the old versus the new, traditional versus modern. In varying degrees—from families to nations—this dichotomy between established cultural institutions and our rapidly changing world is a large obstacle.
This dissonance is a major issue in families today, where attitudes and views between children and parents differ so sharply. Are education and college as important today as they were in generations past? What religious views and social ideas should kids be exposed to? Tough questions with no clear answer, this generation of families struggles to find the fault line in these ideas. It is natural for young people to be influenced by their peers and their surroundings; the cultural environment of society is highly influential to a child’s psyche. Children are highly impressionable and the messages they receive around them shape their perception of the world. Society being infinitely different than it was twenty years ago, today’s youth will have starkly different values and beliefs than their parents.
In a much larger dimension, nations also experience this struggle of old and new ideas; it is a tension that poses a huge threat to the world. Without question, western models of society—democracy and capitalism—are the biggest influences in international politics, a phenomena that many leaders find threatening. Contemporary ideas of economics and politics have percolated to every continent and our interconnected world operates by these institutions. Some claim it is a natural diffusion of ideas and culture while others demand it is aggressive cultural and political imperialism that seeks to exploit other nations.
The evidence suggests that democracy and capitalism have torn countries apart—look at nations like Mexico, the Philippines, Iraq and much of Sub-Saharan Africa,; areas once filled with prosperous civilizations are now plagued with corruption and poverty. The presence of modernism and western colonialism has turned a once prosperous Afghan society into a failed state rampant with violence, gang activity and terrorism. There are numerous examples of this modern deterioration around the world.
On the other side of the apple cart, we can point out many examples of the tremendous benefits of modern ideas of society. Nations like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates enjoy prosperous societies with flourishing economies. Their success can be owed, arguably, to ideas developed and nurtured by Western Europe and the United States.
The most notable example of the dissonance between old and new is that of religious conflict, namely the controversy surrounding the religion Islam. Terrorism, the 9/11 attacks, Charlie Hebdo, ISIS; conflict between the west and Islam is a classic example of the clash of civilizations, a clash between different mentalities, a dissonance between attitudes of different time-periods.
Whether it is conflict within the household or war between nations, finding a fault line between the old and the new is a step towards peace. There is no easy and definite answer to this problem but pointing out the issue is essential to finding viable solutions.