Climate change is a scientific fact and I never would have thought that
it could bring much debate on the floor. If it’s a fact, then there
should simply be an acceptance of it; simply do what you can do in your
own corner. Yet I guess what really drives debates over it, is that we
actually could still do something about it but we often just disregard
Back home, in the Philippines, there are more urgent problems to be
discussed, which is why environmental issues may often be set aside by
the media. There are more powerful national news relevant to nation
building, so discussion on climate change must often take the backseat.
The islands have been through so much natural disasters that the local
audience has grown a distaste for apocalyptic news, in which form most
climate change articles come.
During the conference, sometimes I did
feel that there’s just too much debate, but the discussions somehow
showed that there is more than just one way in finding solutions. In each of our own professions, there are various possible ways. I guess awareness and acceptance of others can be the key.
We are in a world that excludes and includes one another. In the act of
including those that share the same values into one group, there is a
tail effect of excluding those that do not belong, those who are not
doing the same thing. This is not a proper environment for effective
Hans Köchler ended the conference with these complex but
pleasant thoughts. He shared four principles necessary for a healthy
environment in making dialogues effective, and hopefully lead to
efforts that bear fruits.
First he pointed out that there should be
equality in civilizations, or we may say, equality in chances for
development. Attitudes that connote one is more supreme than the other
should be left out.
Second is arriving at a truth through cultural
self-comprehension and self-realization. I could understand that this
entails individual responsibility and appreciation of one’s own
identity. One is not only an offspring of his or her own particular
As Köchler stated, realization of one’s self is the process of reflection, returning
to inner self and also being able to see him/herself from the outside.
This is defining ourselves through the eyes of another, until we come
to a maturity of overcoming the fear of “the alien”, or those that are
not like us; and then freely interact with other civilizations that
have different values than ours.
Third is awareness of conditions at
the meta-level. Meaning, we should learn to ask why and understand the
reason behind the occurrence of circumstances. Then he suggests lastly
that we need an ability to transcend our prejudices.
It’s his second point that made an impression on me. How do we realize
ourselves through the eyes of others? When we make dialogues, we should
remember that we may have varying values. But it is this diversity that
allows us to make wise choices since we listen to the experiences of
others and also learn from them.
When we go beyond our own borders, we
see beyond our own premises. We may even appreciate ourselves better
once we are out of our own boundaries. We become open-minded, and we
are able to facilitate wise decisions. Such decisions that do not put
down “the others”. Wen we all get back home to our own communities,
hopefully we may become agents for change, transforming dialogues into
Somehow when we think back on the conference, have we indeed
gone beyond our borders? Have we made useful intercultural inquiries on
values that go beyond the borders of our profession, or class, or
citizenship? Hopefully, we could realize that knowing ourselves through the eyes of others is possible. Quite a nice note to end the conference.