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The Globalization of the Human Person: A Normative Challenge Roland L.

Aparece Ancient people believed that the world was flat. However, the great voyages of visionary persons revolutionized the peoples traditional conception of the world. In fact, the first phase of globalization started when Christopher Columbus and company risked globalizing their country, which opened up a discovery of a new world, and a big round world by the expedition of Magellan. Those great voyages were among the factors that lead to the transition from the ancient and medieval world to the modern period. The second phase of globalization happened approximately in the 19th and 20th centuries when multinational companies started to globalize themselves to different countries and therefore maximize their profits. The third phase of globalization happens in the advent of the 21st century when human persons started globalizing themselves because of the advances in information and communication technology. A period when individuals are given the power to collaborate and compete globally(Friedman 2005, 9). In effect, it seems that the world now becomes smaller or according to Thomas Friedmans claim, the world is flat. It is this period of personal globalization, which this reflection paper attempts to investigate. The main issue here is about the normative criteria of personal globalization. For this reason, this social issue reflection is divided into three sections: the first deals with the icons of this emerging global-postmodern condition in the Philippines; the second deals with the characteristics of globalization, and the third deals with a proposed norm for personal globalization. The first section concerns with the great icons of this emerging global postmodern condition in the Philippines. Accordingly, these great icons are cable TV, internet, cellular phones and the malls (Huang, 2000). Now, what are the common characteristics of these great icons? First, all these icons break the traditional concepts of time and space. All these icons are successful in defying time and space. Before, one could not watch a foreign movie instantly. One has to go to that country first in order to watch their entertainment programs. But with the invention of the cable television sets and satellites, any individual is given the power to switch instantaneously from televisions programs of one country to another country. The same is true with the internet. In just a matter of seconds, one could have access to different libraries all over the world. One could chat from one country to another country. The same is true with the usefulness of cellular phones. Indeed, it is just a very small instrument, but its power could not be underestimated. Through cellular phones, one is given an instant access to communicate to people from one country to another. In this connection, the case of malls is quite unique in compressing time and space. If one would inspect carefully, the malls are well lighted and ventilated. It creates an illusion therefore that time is always early so why not go on shopping and spends your money. Interestingly, one could also notice that there is no wall clock displayed in every wall of the mall. We could seldom find one. More so, the malls glorify the use of credit cards. Why? Its because aside from its instant usefulness, it also breaks the notions of time and space. Precisely, its because the credit card makes the persons money intangible, just like a mobile phones load, so that the person will not concretely and existentially hold the money he/she is spending. At one point it is an advantage to have a credit card because it is light and easy to hold instead of holding coins and bills. However, there is a latent invitation for the person to keep on spending because one is not consciously holding the real money. In other words, it makes the 1

reality of money, a multipurpose medium of exchange, intangible! Furthermore, the malls also compressed the concept of space because it creates an illusion that whatever one needs in the world is contained in that big building. Concretely, if one wants to buy fish, then one does not have to go to the seaport because abundant fresh supply of these foods is displayed in the mall. Moreover, if someone wants to eat, then one does not need to prepare the food in the kitchen. Delicious cuisine is always available in the food courts and restaurants. Furthermore, if someone wants to watch movie, then one could simply go to the movie theater. Therefore, the mall appears to be a microcosm, a small universe, in which whatever one needs, even goods from other countries, are contained in that big building. In effect, the mall compresses time and space. The second characteristic of these icons is that they provide multiplicity of choices to the person concerned. Concretely, there are so many channels available using cable television set. There are also many websites in the internet and so many items inside the mall. For cellular phones, there are also many mobile numbers and many people saved in the phonebook of the mobile phones subscribers identification module or sim card. Consequently, these multiplicities of choices available challenge the individual to choose alone for oneself. In this case, there is a dangerous tendency towards individualism because the person is left all alone to decide for oneself. Lastly, the great icons of this emerging global postmodern condition challenge to break the traditional notion of metanarrative. Metanarrative refers to the big story that constitutes the self-understanding of a given community. It is the overarching story which makes our individual stories meaningful. In theological studies, this refers to the technical meaning of myth, like the Jesus myth wherein our individual stories of sufferings and salvations find meaning when we relate it to the big story, the salvation history which culminated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, these icons of this emerging globalpostmodern condition glorify only bits and pieces of small stories. The MTV generation and telenobelas are cut by advertisements that shift our attention from the big picture of the story. So, the self is challenge by fragmented pluralism, a self bombarded by so many stories without a unifying whole. The second section of this reflection deals with the characteristics of globalization that we could draw from our engagement with these great icons of this emerging global post modern condition in the Philippines. At this point, I will just run through the different characteristics of globalization because they are very much similar to our discussion of the first section of this reflection. The first and most obvious is the association of globalization with deterritorialization Second, contemporary theorists conceive of globalization as linked to the growth of social interconnectedness across existing geographical and political boundaries. Third, globalization includes reference to the speed or velocity of social activity because of the high-speed transportation, and information- communication technologies (ICT) which defy the geographical and territorial boundaries of different countries. Fourth, even though analysts disagree about the causal forces that generate globalization, most agree that globalization should be conceived as a relatively long-term process. Fifth, globalization should be understood as a multi-pronged process, since deterritorialization, social interconnectedness, and acceleration manifest themselves in many different (economic, political, and cultural) arenas of social activity. (William Scheuerman, Globalization). The third section of this reflection deals with the normative challenge of the 2

third phase of globalization, that is, the person globalizing oneself in a very personal way. The good thing which happened during the first phase of globalization was the existence of clear goals. The great voyages of imperial Spain, for instance, were guided by three goals: To spread Christianity, to find gold and to work for the glory of Spain. Obviously, the Spanish conquistadores may have cruel intentions, mistakes and failures in their quest but they tried at least to be faithful to their goals. They same also is true with the multinational companies in the second phase of globalization. The multinational companies have clear goals in the expansion of their business abroad and hopefully they were also guided by sound principles in business ethics. But the case is totally different during this third phase of globalization. Indeed, when the person is given the chance to globalize oneself, there is no clear norm to follow. It appears then that everything remains relative to the human person concerned. In this connection, let me share my personal experience of globalizing myself. Last summer 2007, the Philippine national and local election was a great opportunity when I decided to globalize myself seriously. Because of the summer program of MAT Philosophy at Ateneo, I missed the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. But I feel I did something heroic. It was Saturday then, 2 weeks approximately before the election, when I decided to send approximately all the profiles of the senatorial candidates to all my Filipino friends in the Philippines and abroad. I did this with the hope that the profiles could help them make a good discernment and thereby be responsible voters. I was so passionate then and it seems to me like a miracle. Imagine, I was just seated at one corner of Rizal Library yet I was able to communicate all my friends in my address book and most of their respective friends too who are living in different parts of the country and abroad. Thanks to the great help of and Indeed, I spent my entire working day doing that mission and I was a bit stressed yet felt consoled that I did something for the Philippines. Looking back the past election, I really dont know if what I did created a strong impact to my friends. But the reality is, I feel I did something worth doing well which either affirms this world is getting smaller or the world is FLAT! The advances offered by information-communication technology (ICT) indeed breaks the traditional concept of time and space. Indeed, by just a matter of seconds, one could chat to someone living in London while that person is situated in the Philippines. More so, one could open several sites simultaneously starting from the most professional to the most naughty pornographic sites. This technological advancement offers a good opportunity to serve humanity and at the same time a challenge. Concretely, after doing my finishing touches on this reflection paper, I will send this via e-mail to Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City. It is a little bit far from my dormitory. I could not beat the deadline anymore unless Ill fly like superman. But thanks to the internet and the brilliant minds who invented this technology. I believed I could make it. On the other hand, this same technology could be subject for abuses. One terrorist can use this same technology to collaborate terrorist activities simultaneously through the internet. This might be the case of Osama bin Ladin during the 9/11 attack of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House. May be he was just seated at one corner of his office but he was able to globalize himself (Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat). To mention a few, we have the and websites like,,,, and others. Here the individual person is globalizing oneself by posting pictures, daily journal and even ones curriculum vitae in ones profile. So 3

the challenge is given to the person who is expected to have a mature conscience in this global undertaking. Responding to these challenges, Pope John Paul II said globalization, a priori, is neither good nor bad. It will be what people make of it. No system is an end in itself, and it is necessary to insist that globalization, like any other system, must be at the service of the human person; it must serve solidarity and the common good. The code of ethics of globalization must be grounded on the very nature of the human person, that human person must always be an end and not means, a subject and not an object, nor a commodity of trade. (Pope John Paul II, April 27, 2001). Finally, how could we direct the seemingly virtual yet real world of information-communication technology towards the good? This is a very crucial question. The question is open ended, and the challenge is the same. We must therefore have a mature conscience in order to apply our fundamental orientation to the good, our final end, to concrete situation calling us for a moral decision here and now (Norris Clarke, Conscience and the Person). However, our fundamental inclination to the good could be fallible. In effect, conscience could be limited because it needs to be informed. Indeed, how could one choose the good if that good is unknown to him. It is clear here that freedom is a function to knowledge. If freedom means the power to choose, then the more knowledgeable you are, the greater will be the range of choices available to you. Consequently, the more you know, the more free you will be! Therefore, the normative challenge in this stage of personal globalization is an informed conscience through education which is a never ending process. It is only through education, by daring to use one's ability to think and embrace the light of wisdom, that one could push forward the dignity of humanity (Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment") by emancipating ourselves from the darkness of ignorance and informing our conscience to the Good, our ultimate end. BIBLIOGRAPHY A. BOOKS Friedman, Thomas. The World is Flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. Robertson, R. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. London: Sage, 1992 Scholte, Jan Aart. Beyond the Buzzword: Towards a Critical Theory of Globalization, in Eleonore Kofman and Gillians Young (ed.), Globalization: Theory and Practice. London: Pinter, 1996. Scholte, Jan Aart. Globalization: A Critical Introduction. New York: St. Martin's, 2000. Tomlinson, John. Globalization and Culture Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1999. B. LECTURE Dy, Manuel. Globalization, Social Philosophy Class notes, MAT Philosophy, summer 2008, Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City. Huang, Daniel Patrict, SJ The Emerging Global Post-Modern Culture in the 4

Philippines, Lecture on the occasion of the Religious Life Week, ICLA, UST, 2000. Ibana, Rainier. Paradoxes of Globalization, Class notes, MAT Philosophy, summer 2008, Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City. Pope John Paul II, Address of the Holy Father to the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, April 27, 2001. C. INTERNET RESOURCES Clarke, Norris. Conscience and the Person William Scheuerman. Globalization, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (