Our cultures are accidents

A version of Matteo Ricci's map created at the request of Wanli Emperor
I recently met with an old friend who I haven't seen for a good couple of years and the only thing I remember after that encounter is the silence and awkwardness. He went to another country to study and we could not keep in touch by email or something like that. This (the lack of communication), in the years that passed, transformed us into two different people and because all our separate experiences could no longer be linked we tried desperately to dig deep into our memories and find the things common for both of us. If we succeeded or not is no longer relevant to our discussion.

Think how humanity spread across the globe many thousands of years ago, long before the existence of Sumer and Ancient Egypt without any possibility of communicating between distant settlements. A look at the history of China and Europe is enough to exemplify the importance nature and geography had on our development. European culture is much more diverse than Chinese which anyway is regarded as one single civilization even if it had its own share of internal struggles. During antiquity and most part of the Middle Ages, Europe was a vast forest which meant that traveling was an adventure not many felt comfortable in embracing. China was mostly the opposite, great plains and the discovery of rice fostered a large population of mostly settled as opposed to migratory workers. 

A typical human migration map, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Europe knew a great degree of unity during the Roman Empire when the Mediterranean Sea became a "Roman Lake", cultural elements flew in that period from one place to another, from Egypt to Greece, from Greece to Rome, from (former) Carthage to Rome and so on. That was a Golden Age for Globalization, believe it or not. All this was possible because the Romans built very good roads, you may even still drive on some of them these days (little bit of an exaggeration) and because, maybe most importantly, in the middle of their territories there was water suited for navigation and commerce. 

Roman Empire at its greatest extent, courtesy of University of Calgary.
We now mostly fly over everything and keeping the proportions we can now do what the Romans did on a global scale. Just to play around a bit think what will happen if we send settlers to Mars and let's say, a good thousand of them manage to live there and suddenly all communication between us and them stops and we can no longer go there and they can no longer come here for... i don't know... two hundred years, what then? Will a war start or would we still be able to sympathize with one another once we are able to communicate again.

Nothing new you could say, in which case you agree with me (and those who stand as a foundation), in fact, most good and real things are not new. Antiquity discovered many basic principles but because of the limits in technology these remained in the realms of philosophy and theory. Even now science is filled with theories waiting for someone in the future to prove them right or wrong. I strongly believe humanity has a chance to unite once again, embracing the differences just like in a large family you can find totally different individuals sitting at the same table during Christmas, Ramadan or any other occasion.  

I recommend you read one of my older articles entitled Making a Bigger Tribe in order to get a better overall image about this issue. 

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