Sunday, January 16, 2011

Playing with words we don't know their meanings

Afghanistan's Education Minister Farooq Wardak, in an interview with Guardian newspaper said the Taliban have agreed to drop their opposition to female education in the war-battered country. "It is attitudinal change, it is behavioural change, it is cultural change," he said. Interesting!
Attitude, behavior and culture all changed within a few years. Do these change so quickly?
Behavior is always driven by belief. Therefore, it changes with a change in belief which may happen in a short span. Attitude is comparatively long-lasting because it has its roots in culture. Culture itself is mind, which is a combination of values, thought patterns & perception, beliefs and behavior.
Culture is like an iceberg with behavior, customs, language, food, art and clothes just the tip, which is called external culture.
The most significant part of culture is internal or inside our heads which encompasses our way of thinking or how we perceive or interpret reality. Our values and beliefs are determined by this part of the culture. These values, beliefs, and ways of thinking in turn shape or determine most of our behavior.
Looking at behavior, attitude, and culture in the light of these arguments, one is surprised how all the three transformed for the Taliban in just 10 years.
Daily Dawn of Pakistan in one of its editorials on January 14 says: "On the surface it was a stern public diplomacy message from the vice president of America to the people of Pakistan." Public diplomacy by its very nature is always soft. Because the aim of public diplomacy is to get people of other countries do what you want them to do without threat or coercion. For public diplomacy governments normally use channels other than diplomacy per se. Like Voice of American (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Liberty Radio (RFL)etc are tools of public diplomacy the United States have been using to promote a soft image of itself. Public diplomacy depends on soft power instead of stern or hard power.
We should be careful in using words which have a large baggage of meanings behind them.

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