Learn from Strangers

I’ve already mentioned the book ‘The Irish and China’, published recently with an introduction by President O’Higgins. Finally, it is to be officially ‘launched’ (see picture).

It is a collection of chapters on different contacts between China and Ireland over the centuries. 

The curious thing is that the Chinese seem to have been more interested in Irish development, history, literature and culture than the Irish were in China.

It should be the other way around. China is a world power with a long history impacting on world affairs and culture while Ireland is a small island at the edge of Europe. At least twenty cities in China each have a far greater population than the whole of Ireland. 

I wrote the chapter on religious contacts over the years (the first Irish monk went to China in 1318) and used the opportunity to illustrate some of the things the Irish could learn from China.

My own attention was drawn to those features because they resembled something familiar to me from my Irish heritage. I discovered there is a human connectivity between cultures, even Irish and Chinese, because we are basically the same human beings with the same hopes, abilities and needs.

The questions we all ask about life are much the same and the answers we have arrived at, up to recently at least, are not all that different.  

If the book has one message it is: humans have to learn from each other to make any progress and we learn more from ‘strangers’ than from those like ourselves.

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