November 8 marked the 25th year following the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided Eastern and Western Europe as a consequence of WWII. The Berlin Wall and other practical metaphors such as the Cold War, Iron Curtain and the juxtaposition of democracy vs. communism formulated the world view of the baby boom generations as they grew to maturity. Many of us baby booms have vivid memories of the imposed constraints that required us negotiate and navigate our political activity around the democratic and communist political paradigm that coloured the Cold War environment.
In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and demise of the former Soviet Union, the Cold War was ended, the Iron Curtain was lifted and the much touted communism threat to the United States became a politically moot point. Many of us watched news report footage of the East Germans breaking down the wall and streaming to the west to begin new lives. I recall the popular refrain that America has won the Cold War and the world is no longer divided by a binary political paradigm. “America is the only super power in the world” became a political mantra in some quarters.
It is generally understood that WWII was the result of events that occurred in Vienna and Berlin, but at the end of the conflict many populations in the world were massively impacted by collateral damage, consequences and results of the war. The partition of East from West Germany was among the outcomes of WWII and the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Walls demise remains a profound experience to many. Interestingly enough little has changed in the geo-political dynamic and trajectory of the United States, apart from the emergence of China as a major economy and global role player.
The emergence of China as a macro role player on the global stage coupled with general acknowledgement that in the foreseeable future China will eclipse the United States as the world’s largest economy, virtually guarantees a continuation of the east vs. west paradigm throughout the 21st century. In addition, events unfolding in the Ukraine portends conflicts in the countries of Eastern Europe as Russia seems to be positioning to reclaim countries that comprised her former empire. Some suggest that Russia’s initiative in the Crimea and Ukraine is based in the fact that NATO, a formulation of the Cold War, is making political overtures to the Ukraine and other countries to join the NATO political orbit. If this suggestion is true, the Russian President Putin is likely affronted by it and will act accordingly going forward.
Apparently the current global scenarios that are unfolding would lead one to believe that the east vs. west adversarial paradigm will stay in place for the foreseeable future. But the east vs. west divide had a much ancient origin then the Berlin Wall and Cold War advent, and it can be traced to the beginning of Christianity in Europe. This ancient divide took the form of a religious schism that bifurcated Christianity in the east and west. Recorded in history as the east vs. west “schism,” it occurred in 325 AD as a result of the proceedings of the first ecumenical Counsel of Nicaea.
The Counsel of Nicaea was convened by Roman Emperor Constantine for the purpose of consolidating Christianity under the domination of Rome. The schism occurred when the emperor excommunicated bishops from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and branded them as heretical for adhering to their doctrine of monophysitism, which holds that the nature of Christ was singular and divine. The new Roman doctrine asserted that the nature of Christ was part human and part divide. Hence, the Ethiopian contingent of the faith was excommunicated from the first ecumenical council and all other subsequent ecumenical counsels.
There is great irony by the fact that the Roman Church was the most recent addition to world Christianity and had only just stopped persecuting Christians in 313 AD by way of the Treaty of Milan… The east vs. west paradigm is an ancient dynamic and will most likely remain as practical dichotomy will into the 21st century and perhaps the next century. However, it is noteworthy to observe that the current east vs. west dynamic is based in a secular and political scenario and its consequences. On the other hand the east vs. west schism that occurred in the 4th century animated the religious and spiritual realms…