Article by Luis Bruzón Delgado, PhD in Communication, now Coordinator of Culture and Communication of Central American Educational and Cultural Coordination, of the Central American Integration System (CECC/SICA).
The culture in which we live has taught us to live out our ideas as if they were real, unique and true. This is a frequent cause of conflicts and discomfort in living with others. But, with our biological-cultural make-up, is it possible to be masters of the truth?
It seems that in the modern world we no longer have time for critical reflection, understood as an emotional act performed to observe and analyse the evolution of our lives. In a world dominated by the unstoppable flow of information or infoxication, have we really dealt with working on social empathy in the face of the dominant entropy?
We should ask ourselves this question in order to consider concepts such as trust in the conformation of modern societies, in which the need to create conditions for coexistence prevails. What role does culture play in the modern world? How is culture related to trust to consolidate peace processes and to structure conditions of well-being? Let’s review some key variables to understand this binomial based on the axes that support the theoretical and conceptual framework of the EUROsociAL+ Programme.
We must first of all consider cultural diversity as a means of achieving acceptable living conditions. The heterogeneity of ways of thinking and understanding the world, as well as the democratic exercise of cultural rights, suppose a recognition of the multiple identities that form Latin America and, therefore, people’s dignity. Multiculturalism needs trust to generate intercultural relationships based on mutual respect, in harmony with nature, as sustained by indigenous and Afro-descendant worldviews.
On the other hand, gender inequalities cause mistrust in the absence of the principles of women’s empowerment and social, economic and political participation. The same is true of the institutional sphere, often unable to design adequate public policies for the well-being and development of the population or to satisfy at least the basic needs of citizens.
More than half of the youth in Latin America are in a vulnerable situation, which generates mistrust and translates into expressions of exclusion, poverty and violence. This situation extends to migrants, children and adolescents, the elderly, the LGBTI community and the disabled. The sustainability of the actions undertaken to reverse this situation is based on the creation of conditions to establish bonds of trust, on which the desire for a better society rests, as the SDGs point out.
In this context, the production of culture, the active participation of society in the construction of new discourses based on ethnodevelopment as a source of well-being becomes a necessity. Culture, through symbolism and art, constitutes a transforming force, generating hope and trust through education, managing emotions to recognise the other, fostering a critical sense of the global reality around us, fostering creativity and stimulating new forms of communication.
This must be accompanied by public policies that facilitate such democratic participation and allow the establishment of social agendas geared towards the inclusion of culture as a pivotal element for a paradigm shift.
In the modern world, the knowledge, acceptance and understanding of other cultures is part of a necessary process, marked transversally by trust. Only in this way can a true intercultural dialogue be achieved, which is impossible without the vision of cultural relativism and the promotion of listening to stimulate participatory action. The inclusion of the other is an emotion that must be worked on in a global world tending to integrate us and in which no one should be left behind. In short, we must open the doors to trust at the political and social levels to generate changes towards a fairer, more equitable and inclusive world.