Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Freedom, Democracy and Harmony Diplomacy: A Review by Morgan Steacy, York University, Toronto, East Asian Studies Department.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Can’t we all just get along?”, and thought that it sounded reasonable? This is exactly what I believe happened to Dr. Francis Fung, Director General of the World Harmony Organisation. Dr. Fung has written an article entitled, Freedom Democracy and Harmony Diplomacy that essentially asks this very question. The difference here is that he answers with a resounding, yes.
Up until now no one has ventured to explore the reasons that people have so often asked this question, but have never actually dealt with why the answer that should be YES seems determined to remain NO. So, how does this article evade the puerile nature of the question that it deals with?
Dr. Fung has chosen the USA, as the major world power, to be the primary focus of his urgings. He links historical downfalls of people quite succinctly with the current situation of the world. He describes a world that is so overcome with the notion of “spreading freedom” that there is never a moment to stop and think about the hypocrisy of deciding to “bring freedom” to another nation.
He describes this as “freedom diplomacy”, a process which is detrimental to societies because of the fact that they are not determining their own freedom, making it inherently flawed. He further points out that while terrorists have acted in order to destroy our freedom, their success in actually doing so has been ineffective. He claims that it is our reaction to terrorism that has actually limited our freedom. He is not claiming that countries should eliminate counter-terror measures. The point he is making is that we are dealing with the symptoms of a problem rather than the problem itself.
Some believe that the answer to the problem lies in the style of governance that persists in regions where terrorists are able to survive. The answer, to these people, is simple. Spread democracy. If democracy’s impact has been felt to the extent that it has in so many other parts of the world, then surely there is no reason for it to fail elsewhere. The truth, unfortunately, lies far from this simplistic view. It is impossible to deny that democracy has been a boon to many societies, and has even been the backbone of success in the modern world, but there are differences in the way that each nation practices democracy. The flexibility that democracy allows within a defined structure is one thing that makes democracy such an amazing concept. Unfortunately, it is often the case that narrow-mindedness and a lack of true cultural understanding inhibits the propagation of actual democracy, and it is only imperialism that perseveres.
Finally, Dr. Fung, having illuminated many of the problematic approaches currently being undertaken, leads the reader to the solution. Harmony is an approach that supports rather than censures, it is tolerant rather than judgemental and it is inclusive instead of being exclusive. Harmony is meant to encompass the fundamental principles that one ought to adhere to in all facets of life. Decision-making processes would be geared towards harmony, rather than personal gain, from an individual level all the way to a global plain.
Dr. Fung has taken a concept that is so seemingly simplistic and breathed a palpable life into it in this essay. The statement that he is making is direly needed and I hope that he continues to make statements like these so that people will start to realise that the solutions that are currently failing to solve the contentious issues of global peace will continue to fail until we realise that it is our very goal that is misguided. We need to establish global harmony before thinking about global peace. Harmony does not imply agreement, only tolerance. It is possible to bring harmony about quickly through education and compliance. Once the people of the world commit to harmony as a means to solve problems, the problems of the world will finally become manageable, and maybe then we will all “just get along”.


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