INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CULTURAL HERITAGE AND CONTEMPORARY CHANGE

Welcome speech by Rector Dr. P. Martin Komolmas

It is my great pleasure to be here among distinguished scholars from various countries. Welcome to Bangkok. Welcome to Assumption University. The topic of the conference is of great interest among contemporary scholars.

As we all know, the word "culture" is a term of virtually limitless application. Culture is generally understood to refer to everything that is produced by human beings. Culture is composed of human activities which are socially rather than genetically transmitted. All of us here are from different societies which are characterized by our own distinctive cultures. Each culture includes language, religion, morality, art and architecture, customs, spirituality, philosophy, dialects, legal and political systems, educational and training systems, types of economy and technology, and much else besides.

Human history is replete with novelties. Each era has witnessed unprecedented changes. In ancient times the Invention of the wheel revolutionized socioeconomic conditions due to the use of carts and carriages for transport. The art of writing was yet another milestone in human progress. Down through the centuries there have been innumerable inventions and exciting phenomena which have contributed immensely to the quality of human life, In our own era we witness two major phenomena: cybernetics and globalization. On the science front, cybernetics holds the key to infinite possibilities of communications. Globalization occupies a prominent place in the contemporary socioeconomic scenario. Thanks to cybernetics globalization has become an inevitable process.

Is globalization a monolithic monster or a welcome agent of uniting the human family in today's global village? What is going to be the fate of various cultures in the face of contemporary change being ushered in by globalization? Can our cultures withstand the sweeping impact of globalization or will they be swallowed up? Is humankind heading towards the creation of a global culture introduced by the dominant economic powers of the world? Is it possible to preserve the best elements of various cultures in the context of ongoing globalization? These are some of the questions intelligent persons will be forced to reflect upon as we encounter the phenomenon of globalization.

The cultural heritage of each nation defines its identity. The values enshrined in each culture give direction to the lives of the people. Respect for human worth and dignity, tolerance, compassion, hospitality, simplicity, spirituality and joy have been the chief values of the Asian people from time immemorial. These values ought to be preserved as we find ourselves in the rat-race of competition, success and profit-making. How best can we retain our Asian identity in the changing Circumstances of contemporary market economy? We know it is a gigantic task, an uphill climb to safeguard our value system from the onslaught of the politics and economics of convenience.

It is worth examining what Asia has perennially to offer to the world. It is right and fitting that scholars from Asia, America and other countries have come together at Assumption University, Bangkok to inquire into "Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change". I am sure these three days of deliberations will result in mutual enlightenment, friend-ship and ongoing partnership so that all of us can contribute, in our own way, to making this world a better place to live in. The richness of our cultural heritage has to be tuned in such a way that we strike a harmonious balance between what we already have and what more we wish to have in terms of the quality of the life of our people.

I have much pleasure in wishing the seminar a great success.


ABAC Today Assumption University, Thailand