Discuss the role that religion, terrorism and democracy have played among nations responding to Western influence and modernization.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Every country in the world outside of Europe and countries like the US, Canada, and Australia that are now largely populated by the descendants of Europeans has had to deal with the impact of Western influences and modernization.  These various countries have reacted to these factors in a variety of ways.  In many such countries, religion, terrorism, and democracy have played a role in shaping reactions to these factors.  However, other forces such as nationalism have also been important in many countries’ reactions to Western influences and modernization.

There are some countries in which religion has played a major role in shaping the response to the West and to modernization.  In today’s world, we tend to focus on the Muslim countries in this regard.  We can argue that Islam has helped to encourage resistance to many forms of Western influence and modernization.  For example, many Muslim countries are very reluctant to accept Western/modern ideas about the proper role of women in society.  Many such countries are also resistant to the idea of the separation of church and state, another Western/modern idea.  We can also say that religion has helped encourage India to push back against Western ideas.  India has been reluctant to let go of the caste system and to become more modern in its social arrangements.

There are countries in which terrorism has occurred as a response to Western influences and/or the process of modernization.  Many countries have had factions that have resorted to terrorism as a way to try to push colonial powers out so the countries could regain independence.  Even the Jews who created the State of Israel used terrorism against the British as a way of pushing for their own independence.  In the modern world, we focus on Muslim terrorists who want to create polities that will be free of Western and modern influences, but there have been other countries in which terrorism has been utilized in response to these influences.

In many cases, democracy is pursued by countries who are more willing to accept Western influences and modernization.  Democracy is generally a Western idea and a modern one.  Many countries like Saudi Arabia reject democracy because they do not want to accept modern/Western ways.  Other non-Western countries such as Japan have been more willing to accept democracy because they are less dedicated to the idea that they should resist the West and modernity.

Thus, we can see that religion, terrorism, and democracy have played different roles in different countries with respect to the ways in which those countries have reacted to Western influences and modernization.

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