Globalophobia: We are afraid of the world

By: Wolfgang Vondey
Monday, September 13th, 2010

Let’s admit it, we really just want to be by ourselves. We are comfortable with ourselves, our houses, spouses, and children, our jobs, and the demands we can comfortably meet by next Thursday. We have enough on our plate thinking from here to the front yard. Our job demands enough from us without having to think globally, the world, the planet, the earth, or whatever they call it. There is no need to engage the whole globe! Who can handle the whole world?

Underlying this resentment is really a fear of getting lost; an uncertainty of what the world has to offer, why we should engage the world and on what terms. We disagree with the statement that the world is getting smaller. All this information overflow is not getting the world closer together; it adds more and more on top of everything until there is no knowledge of who wants what and why. This symptom is called globalophobia.

Okay, I made this up. The term globalophibia does not really exist. But it should. Because most of us are afraid of the world.

We are not afraid of any specific place, or country, or culture, or ritual. We do not mind going to Haiti, or Nairobi, or Shanghai. We can handle concise places. We can survive for a week in a country whose language we do not speak or understand. We can eat food we have never tasted, and worship with people we never met. At least once.

What we cannot handle is globalization. To be honest, we do not really know what that means. Who are we? Who can tell us who we are? Who can we trust?

Globalization is the monster that triggers our fear of the world. We do not want to be globalized. We don’t even want to be “global”. Even “international” is not an adjective with which we are truly comfortable. We don’t really even know who we are. We know what we are called. But we don’t know how to think of ourselves in terms of the world. We have learned to think of ourselves in terms of this building, that sanctuary, those people, last Sunday, or tomorrow’s baptism. But beyond those isolated coordinates we dare not see ourselves. We have lost our sense of history and what was once called the communion of saints. We are in the world but not of the world. We are afraid of the world. We are — the church.

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Wolfgang Vondey
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