Religion and Globalization
Modernity’s current crisis could be attributed to the continued differentiation of functional systems in their effort to achieve their own aims. Success in such achievement is of undoubted benefit to humankind. However, pursuit of particular aims with little regard to the aims of other systems has multiple unpredicted and often harmful consequences. Differentiation has to be balanced by integration if the world’s current pressing problems are to be addressed successfully. Modern religion could facilitate such integration at the local and global levels. Religion possesses several important elements of soft power. Its visionary appreciation of the transcendent engenders a degree of humility which could temper overweening ambition and facilitate open-minded dialogue; its identification with the poor gives it an advocacy role on behalf of a neglected constituency; and its respect for the universal human condition is expressed in the appealing golden rule of ‘do as you would be done by’. But any religious input to dialogue at the local and global levels depends ultimately upon individuals with complex selves. Dialogue between social systems requires internal dialogue in minds which embrace multiple social identities. Fundamentalist identities are distinctly unhelpful.