After completing my guided tour of Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon, I asked my tour guide if he was free and could tell me more about Portugal’s history. We walked on the street that goes uphill from Arc Di Augusta. We talked about the Muslim rule of Portugal, the Reconquista, the Great Lisbon Earthquake, the second Republic, Portugal’s ideological rift with Spain and Lisbon’s naval supremacy during the 15th century.
He pointed out how every civilization sees itself as the center of the world at some point in time and writes its history as the central drama of human history. For the Arabs this time can be the time of Caliph Umer, for the Turks it might be the era of Suleiman the Magnificent, for the Greeks it might be the era of Alexander the Great, for the French it might be the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, for the Persians it might be the time period of the Sasanian empire, for Sikhs it might be the reign of Ranjit Singh and the list goes on. This self-proclaimed greatness is evident form the world map that our children study in school books, every country shows the world map as flat and shows itself at the center of the world. He told me that it’s very likely that the map I saw in my school books showed Pakistan at the center of the world and boasted about Pakistan’s great geostrategic location, while his school books showed Portugal at the center of the world and emphasized on Portugal’s great strategic location.
A lot of unnecessary conflict could have been avoided if we just realized that ‘You are not the center of my world’. I am the center of my world, you are the center of yours and there are hundreds of similar worlds around us, each one of them is extremely important yet extremely insignificant. It had gotten dark and I had to catch an overnight bus that would take me to the Spanish city of Seville six hours away. Suddenly the drizzle changed into a heavy shower, with this exchange we greeted goodbyes and parted ways.
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