A MONTH ago, I received a phone call from a friend whom I had been with during my five years of studying in Brunei. She is now residing in Naples, Italy with her family and hopes to enter one of its prestigious universities to take a course on Environment. It was really nice to hear from a friend that I had neither seen nor talked to for a long time.

However, our almost 30-minute conversation was not as delightful as I expected it to be. It seemed that half of the time we were on the phone she kept on blabbering about how proud she is for living in Europe and how she pitied me for continuing my studies here in the Philippines.

I remember the lectures of my professor way back my first year about the West and its dominance in the world, and indeed, the West can offer better opportunities.

But to my friend, perhaps she should learn a word or two from Fritz Staal, before going overboard with her statements against Asia and Asians alike.

According to Staal, a Dutch and professor emeritus of Philosophy and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the Dutch Academy of Sciences has reported that mathematics is declining in the Netherlands even faster than elsewhere. Staal also noted that while Asians are progressing in the academe, Euro-Americans are slowing down, which is tantamount to sliding back and it is inevitable that technologies and economies will follow suit.

I find Staal’s statement true since the basic stimulus of a nation to be powerful depends on the proper operation and utilization of science, mathematics, languages and values.

China in our midst

Along with Staal’s observations, Hungarian-American businessman and scientist Andrew Grove revealed that youngsters in the West are no longer ambitious. Right now, almost all graduate students in the basic sciences on which global technology nowadays depend are Asians.

I call this as Asia’s “delicate reprisal” towards the West. Soon, Orientalism, the mentality that stained most of Asian genuineness and caused the repeal of the region’s “supposed” early progression, will be permanently undermined.

In his famous book, “Orientalism,” the late Palestinian-American cultural critic and political activist Edward Said argues that “a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia in the Western culture had served as a motivation and an implicit justification for Europe’s colonial and imperial ambitions.”

I strongly agree with Said. Orientalists expressed their curiosity to Eastern civilizations with great consideration, to the point of abstracting too much and making their concepts frail and unempirical in reality since their extrapolations were purely based from assumptions and thus, their objectivity is challenged by biases.

I support the other critics of the West’s inequitable rules in the game of attaining global victory.

Anti-Orientalists, including me, believed that the West only manipulated the thread of progression that has been flourishing in the East by exploiting resources through religious or geopolitical conquests. When the West made the final sprint in the race, they hindered the Orient’s development, which the Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Arabs could have probably achieved in the same time frame or early on. One good example is the emergence of the Spanish and the British Empire in the 16th century. Britain even earned the title of the “mistress of the sea.”


Moreover, until the 20th century, in 1914, when the Ottoman Empire tried to strengthen its presence in Mesopotamia (presently Iraq), the British sent military forces to impede the Turks’ movement and probable access in the Persian oilfields. Such action of the British bothered the Germans, who were also hoping to squeeze their clout through West Asia to gain wealth.

It is disappointing that because of the West’s eminence, only a few people acknowledge what the East has diligently done in the past and is making now to promote development. For instance, the Babylonians established the earliest system of economics.

Even mathematics, astronomy and architecture owe their beginnings to the Mesopotamians. The Parthenon in Athens which was constructed primarily by the use of Greek geometry got its inspiration from the Vedic Age of India and earlier Mesopotamian ideas.

Even German philosopher Greorg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel admitted that Persia, one of the neighbors of Mesopotamia and presently Iran, is where “the principles of development began.”

The world’s prominent religions— Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are also rooted in the East. It is in Asia where the foundation of these great religions can be found, as well as the most holy places for pilgrimage are visited. We have Siddharta Gautama, Zarathustra, Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, among others to thank for what the world has now in terms of religion.

My friend should not have easily belittled what Asians are capable of. I hope that such tilted manner of hers will be straightened in her so-called acquaintance with the “hero of the world: the West.”

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