Engagement between cultures becomes possible, only when culture and modernisation are in balance, opined spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi. Addressing the Regional Consultations for Asia-South Pacific, convened by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations(UNAOC) in Shanghai, she explained how globalisation has affected the coexistence of cultures both positively and negatively.
“Efforts at coexistence fail when we claim that we are all one, but disrespect ancient customs and traditions,” she warned. “We have to acknowledge the fact that even though we are one in essence, externally, we are different.” Amritanandamayi also urged everyone to respect diversity.
“An awareness of the need for coexistence, amidst diversity, is the only way to alleviate the suffering of others.”
Supporting her views with examples based on humanitarian work in culturally-diverse regions, Amritanandamayi stressed the need to contribute to the global conversation on coexistence, by setting an example of respect and tolerance.
She called for a balance of rights and respect. “When we engage others with respect, understanding and acceptance, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart. For the past 40 years, I have been communicating with people of all languages, races, colours, castes and religions, from the very poorest to the rich and famous through the language of love. There are no barriers for love.”
The Shanghai event, ‘Harmony Through Diversity and Dialogue’, is jointly organised by the UNAOC and the UN Association of China.