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Reflection, Helena Norberg-Hodge, May 26, by Yaqi Fu
Question from Wenzel: Why was the Ladakh society so vulnerable by Western culture?
Combined yesterday’s video lecture we had watched with her book, I feel one of Helena’s idea is to try to make people believe that localization is the way to economics of happiness. The interdependence and connection among people around are regarded as important factors in constructing such happiness. In her view, Ladakh is kind of a paradise for human’s living. However, what she worried is Ladakh has been deeply affected by western culture. These western influences as she considered, have changed local economy, technology and education greatly, but are destroying the paradise. In order to save the paradise, Helena would like to let the local people know that not all the western life style, technique, education are good for their society. She hopes the local people can spare no efforts in preserving their tradition and culture. But in my eyes, it would be hard for the Ladakh people to go back to their former age.
The question, why the Ladakh society is so vulnerable in facing with western impacts? I think there are mainly two kinds of reasons. One is on the Ladakh side, that Ladakh is located at the boundary area and their culture are at the primary stage compared to it’s neighbours like India and Tibetan. The boundary site would be easy to lose the root of cultural identity and the simplified cultural stage may have less resistance to the invasion of other culture. The other side would be the western techniques can help people save their labor and broaden the local people’s eyes. When they began to admire the advanced techniques, then it would be much easy for them to accept the western economy and education as they may want to develop advanced technology and machines with the help of westerners.
I also think, not only Ladakh is vulnerable, but many other parts of the world, no matter Western or Eastern, have the same problem as Ladakh, the problem of us, that we are experiencing the life that we are not familiar with. The development of techniques facilitates our lives, but it also creates a new environment that we need adapt ourselves to. The world is completely new to us, with its change. As Goethe said “Wie machen wir’s, daß alles frisch und neu, und mit bedeutung auch gefällig sei” (Faust I), and Helena’s way is to try localization. I would say, her method is fantastic in imagination but would be hard to implement in the speeding world.
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