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E. Drapeko: Address to World Summit 2013

PhotoThe issues to be discussed during this conference will touch upon the most important aspects of the global agenda. Preserving peace is a complex task, and as we pursue it we must consider many factors, ranging from the conflicting interests of financial and political elite groups and ending with national peculiarities of countries and regions. It is obvious that our goals could only be achieved through the coordinated efforts of the whole international community.

The important role in this process belongs to the authoritative international conferences that facilitate an exchange of experiences and views about how to pursue world peace, condemn violence, and improve and strengthen the system of international legal methods of conflict resolution.

At the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, humanity has been facing a large number of problems: growing inequalities between and within nations, poverty, disease, illiteracy, environmental pollution, expansion of cruelty and violence, spread of various forms of extremism, separatism, massive spiritual degradation in the form of drug addiction, prostitution, loss of spiritual and moral values in art and education, and open manifestations of exclusion and marginalization of people. These are evidence of a socio-cultural and spiritual-moral crisis.

Scientists and public figures have created and advanced the concepts of sustainable development and a culture of peace. They are focused on achieving the goals needed to help overcome the crisis, including eliminating poverty among a considerable part of humanity, ensuring environmental safety and rational use of natural resources, and renouncing violence. The basic conditions for the sustainable and safe development of each human being, nations, and the world community as a whole include moral ethical imperatives and social responsibility; these should be objective imperatives and adopted on all social levels, from the individual and family up to the international level.

In this situation, all more or less significant social institutions are subject to evaluation from the point of view of sustainable development and a culture of peace and to the extent they can help promote these values.

The current process of globalization, building connections and cooperation between nations, should not eliminate the unique characteristics of the civilizations of the world's regional and national cultures. The preservation of cultural diversity depends on how a globalized world will be arranged: whether it will be on a democratic basis, with relations of equality and solidarity or, on the contrary, on relations of inequality under the economic and political dominance of one center. In response to the globalization in economics and the financial sector, throughout the world people are calling for the preservation of national traditions and national cultures.

Today, preservation of many aspects of cultural diversity is guaranteed by the existence of ethnic states and the state obligations under international conventions and treaties.

An important factor of the development and preservation of national cultural identity is a liberal education in the humanities. Education should be based on the achievements of a culture -- not only on the international aspects of a culture with but also on the individual national cultures with their traditions, languages, national literature, and history.

Our experience in Russia shows that the call to revive forgotten traditions can be heard only if it is in tune with the modern age and relevant to our time. It is impossible to impose on young people something that is not interesting to them, even if we try to convince them that it is a tradition.

Traditionalism, like its prototype, religious fundamentalism, portrays itself as a champion of lasting, eternal values, but in fact it discredits the values of a culture. The isolation of traditions from the processes of renewal and development turns the living cultural values into dead museum exhibits and calls upon people to live according to the laws of an idealized past that never existed. Its immediate effect is to widen the gap between generations. In the context of rapid social changes, this gap is particularly evident in regions where so-called traditional cultures are still found.

Russia, like other countries of the world, is looking for ways to solve the existing modern contradictions. Academician A.A. Guseinov believes that the world has the prospect of creating a single (global) ethics on the basis of norms of behavior that are actually being practiced in modern societies. In addition, economics, science, politics, and other spheres of activity have reached such a degree of complexity that they can operate successfully only in single social systems. Their stability is primarily guaranteed by their rigid normative and technological framework. This results in a social ethics that is independent of national or cultural identity. For the young sprouts of common ethical and cultural activities to develop into a global ethics will require enormous efforts over a long period, the extent of which we do not yet know.

One outstanding Russian scientist, academician Dmitry Likhachev, proposed the adoption of the Declaration on Cultural Rights as an international document. In relation to the Declaration, he explained his personal vision of globalization as a process driven not by the material needs but by cultural needs of humanity. It would be incorrect to view this as only the expansion of global corporations and the exchanges of personnel and material resources. Humanity must create the concept of globalization as a harmonious process of the world's cultural development. There needs to be a balance between the cultures that have become widespread -- such as those of the United States, Russia, and China -- and the cultures of small ethnic groups. Is there a danger of the bigger cultures suppressing the smaller ones? Of course, there is. But is it possible to isolate a small culture from a large one? It may be possible, but it is dangerous. For example, any attempt to isolate the language of a small nation leads to its impoverishment.

To save a culture means preserving its spirit, its special intellectual concepts, and its ethical systems. Any culture will inevitably be subject to internationalization, but every nation should preserve a certain cultural space for its own identity. It is a matter of balance.

There are issues on which we still have no answers, but it is important that in our search for them we find the right approaches. Our main task is to direct what is certainly inevitable in the right direction.

For more information about World Summit 2013, click here.