Friday, May 29, 2009

Zizek on the trauma of globalisation...

And now for a bit of cultural theory from its own 'enfant terrible':

"Those who understand globalisation as an opportunity for the entire earth to be a unified space of communication, one which brings together all of humanity, often fail to notice [the] dark side of their proposition. Since a Neighbour is... primarily a thing, a traumatic intruder, someone whose different way of life disturbs us, throws the balance of our way of life off the rails when it comes too close, this can also give rise to an aggressive reaction aimed at getting rid of this disturbing intruder.

One of the things alienation means is that distance is woven into the very social texture of everyday life. Even if I live side by side with others, in my normal state I ignore them... I move in a social space where I interact with others obeying certain external 'mechanical' rules, without sharing their inner world. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that sometimes a dose of alienation is indispensible for peaceful coexistence. Sometimes alienation is not a problem but a solution."

(from "Violence" by Slavoj Zizek)

If Zizek is right, what theological ramifications and responses might be anticipated? The one that immediately comes to mind for me is that Christ's call to "love our neighbor as ourselves" might, in fact, be synonymous with the acceptance of an aggressive retaliatory response. Perhaps loving my neighbor means exactly the willingness to allow them the freedom to persecute me for my love. Perhaps this is what Jesus' statement, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," really means: to love like Christ will inevitably lead to conflict. And, like Christ, when that conflict arises, it is imperative that we, his followers, do not respond in kind, but continue to show love, even when that love means our own crucifixion.

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