Via Chandrahas, I learned of this wonderful quote by, no not some well known literary star, but from Mohammad Khatami, the former President of Iran. I don’t know much about Khatami or his political record – except that he seemed someone who promoted a conciliatory rather than a confrontational tone – but I like very much what he says below:
One goal of dialogue among cultures and civilizations is to recognize and to understand not only the cultures and civilizations of others, but those of one's own. We could know ourselves by taking a step away from ourselves and embarking on a journey away from self and homeland and eventually attaining a more profound appreciation of our true identity. It is only through immersion into another existential dimension that we could attain mediated and acquired knowledge of ourselves in addition to the immediate and direct knowledge of ourselves that we commonly possess. Through seeing others we attain a hitherto impossible knowledge of ourselves. [my italics]Yes, there’s some rhetoric in the quote, but the last sentence captures the gist beautifully, and is spot on!