Chinese President Xi Jinping’s observation that it is stupid and disastrous for people to think that their race and civilization is superior and insist on remolding or replacing other civilizations, is apt. However, this is easier said than done since global powers are keen to project their influence and dominate lesser powers. It is the same Xi Jinping who in a speech to the Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People said that it was time for China to transform itself into ‘a mighty force’ that will lead the entire world on social, political, economic, military and environmental issues, and gave this aspiration a timeframe.
Lessons learnt from the rise and collapse of empires teach us that downfall is a normal phenomenon for civilisations regardless of their size and technological stage. Societies are complex systems composed of people and technology. Systems frequently give way to failure. Being more socio-politically, economically and technologically advanced in no way provides immunity to the threats that undid our ancestors. The more advanced a society is, the more it has new, unprecedented challenges. Greater size is no armour against societal dissolution.
The wise thing to do is to uphold equality and respect, abandon pride and prejudice, deepen our knowledge about different civilizations, and promote harmonious dialogue and coexistence.