Globalization is one of the historical processes that cannot be neglected because it determines the quality of human life, as well as interpersonal relationships. When people prefer globalization over other concepts, they accept interaction between independent cultures and traditions. Not to be lost in a variety of available options and freedoms, individuals try to choose a constant and stick to it during their development, internal and external changes, and improvements. Religion is one of the systems that help people identify themselves through the prism of their beliefs, knowledge, and interests. However, the impact of globalization on religion is hard to predict or investigate because of existing norms and values. There are many outside compulsive forces that cause religious diversity and instability of beliefs, and globalization processes are usually associated with these unpredictable changes. Religious pluralism is an outcome, and creating an authentic global family through solidarity and the common good may be a solution. In this paper, the relation between religion and globalization will be analyzed to clarify how understanding theological concepts contributes to interconnectedness.
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Globalization and Its Impact on Religion
One of the vital goals cherished by modern people is to succeed in growth and development. Populations improve their systems of education, establish new trade relationships, and create political and economic alliances to promote the exchange of information and knowledge. Speed turns out to be the main characteristic of globalization because it is important not to waste time and achieve the best possible results. However, as soon as people omit details, they cannot control specific conditions under which globalization leads to the mixing of cultures and religions (as cited in Obadia, 2017, p. 3). As a result, the connection between religion and globalization has become one of the potential challenges to human faith and beliefs. On the one hand, it is normal to expect that religion serves as an independent identifier of human lives. On the other hand, when globalization provokes new contacts and experiences, one religion may conflict with another religion. It is not enough for a group of people with similar beliefs to know that their faith has meaning. A burning desire to prove the superiority of the chosen religion occurs.
Individuals try to address such concepts as religious tolerance, equality, solidarity, and dignity and find out a common sense of their beliefs. For example, Groody (2015) underlines the importance of the Christian message and calls “to globalize solidarity, beginning with the most vulnerable and neglected members of the human community” (p. 316). Unfortunately, the findings by Beyer (2014) show that at this moment, “our fragmented, globalized world differences divide people so severely,” which makes solidarity impossible (p. 7). From a purely religious point, globalization cannot be considered a positive contribution to human growth but an obstacle that questions the already accepted beliefs. Authentic freedoms, human dignity, and equal worth are crucial to follow a stable social order (Wright, 2017, p. 15). Relying on the power of religion and respecting all traditions from Christianity to Buddhism, the creation of a global family may be possible.
An Idea of an Authentic Global Family
In their intention to demonstrate their respect and power of religion, some people accept the idea of an authentic global family. It consists of two main concepts – authenticity and globalization. Auerbach gives a clear explanation of authentic family engagement as “respectful alliances among educators, families, and community groups that value relationship building, dialogue, and power sharing” (as cited in Wasserman and Sabater, 2018, p. 33). It means that any authentic family should be able to communicate and delegate responsibilities and powers, respecting each other’s rights and freedoms.
In religion, a family is usually based on love, morale, support, and appreciation of God’s motives and judgments. There is the Trinity image where “the Father loving the Son, receiving the love of the Son, the Spirit as that love personified” (O’Neil & Black, 2003, p. 4). When family members feel love, they become interconnected and experience peace and harmony. There are no concerns about inequality or conflicts because unconditional love guides evolution. The relationships in authentic families are dynamic as every member develops in a specific way in regard to personal interests and abilities. However, every family is a result of God’s grace because it is He who “always acts first” (O’Neil & Black, 2003, p. 2). To uphold family life, promote peace, and distribute resources equally, a Catholic university develops its commitment to social teaching, which may be helpful in the era of globalization (Ogilvie, 2018, p. 35). There are several fundamental principles in this teaching, including human dignity, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity (Wright, 2017, p. 12). To contribute to the realization of an authentic global family, these concepts help overcome globalization-related challenges and religious pluralism.
The role of the Church in human life cannot be ignored even if its today’s impact is not as evident as it was several centuries ago. Religion has changed many macro social issues like the economic system or the government and micro social aspects like individual or community faith (Wright, 2017, p. 10). Castles (1998) proposes to defend local interests against globalization on the basis of “cultural symbols connected with dignity and identity” (182). According to Pope Benedict, human dignity is “the intrinsic value” people created relying on the image of God (as cited in Wright, 2017, p. 12). This principle proves the necessity to support self-giving behaviors and freedoms. Subsidiarity is important for coordinating society and decision-making among free individuals. However, if dignity and subsidiarity contain a portion of control and dependence on moral judgments and God’s will, solidarity and the common good support fulfillment and sharing in families.
During a long period, people learn the same principle of solidarity. Its main idea lies in mutuality among all individuals, including the poor, the marginalized, believers, and non-believers (Beyer, 2014, p. 17). In a family, solidarity is applied as an attempt to share material and spiritual goods; thus, it has also become a crucial aspect of Christianity (Wright, 2017, p. 12). It may be easier for some people to comprehend solidarity as friendship, charity, and love. Sometimes, an understanding of solidarity turns out to be an impossible mission because of the prevalence of suffering and hard choices that questions the existence of a loving and all-powerful God. However, globalization is a period when suffering and pain may be facilitated or isolated, and authentic global families accept solidarity as an obligatory norm.
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The Common Good
The common good is another significant theological concept that is frequently applied, along with solidarity, to the discussion of authentic relationships during globalization. In the majority of cases, it “implies a dedication to the poor and disadvantaged through individual actions and collective initiatives” (Wright, 2017, p. 14). The task is to support social and political order and allow people to reach their goals. There is no need to define what is good or wrong but determine opportunities for societies to live the way they want. Fair treatment, a balance of interests, and recognition of human rights are the main elements that communities promote in their desire to apply the common good. Despite the already made achievements, this principle makes it possible for people to participate in social development. God will never give more than a person could survive and deserves, and an authentic global family has to consider the common good in life.
Religious Beliefs, Identity, and Globalization
Taking into consideration the definitions of the main theological concepts and the essence of globalization, the relation between social and religious aspects is evident. Any authentic global family should be based on the principles of solidarity and the common good to remove the existing pluralism of thoughts and beliefs. One of the main human intentions is to achieve success, staying free and independent. Globalization is a step towards freedom, but it is also characterized by invisible threats and ambiguities. Therefore, it is always necessary to rely on God and His will to help, support, and guide. There are so many rules, policies, and tasks that every individual has to follow within their families, communities, and nations. As soon as globalization breaks all the boundaries, it becomes hard to behave in regard to the already established norms. People cannot identify themselves, and the only stable source of support is God, with his vision of human solidarity and the common good.
In general, people cannot imagine their lives without changes and constant movements, which explains the globalization progress and the possibility to share knowledge and experiences. However, creating a true authentic global family is never simple, and there is a need for common rules and standards. Therefore, it is high time to address religion and apply the principles of solidarity, the common good, subsidiarity, and dignity. God may vary in different religions, but He pursues the same goal to support and guide people. Globalization may be far from real interconnectedness and interdependence, but its cooperation with religion makes it closer to the chosen goal.
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O’Neil, K., & Black, P. (2003). The essential moral handbook: A guide to Catholic living. Liguori.
Obadia, L. (2017). Comparing ‘religious diversities’: Issues, perspectives and problems. Approaching Religion, 7(1), 2-9. Web.
Ogilvie, M. (2018). A Catholic university in the Kimberley: Reflections on a Catholic identity. The Lonergan Centre.
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Wright, K. S. (2017). The principles of Catholic social teaching: A guide for decision making from daily clinical encounters to national policy-making. The Linacre Quarterly, 84(1), 10–22.