Is our Planet's Cultural Diversity a good thing?

by: Ender

Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 13:34:17 PM EDT


(Now this is the change we can believe in - promoted by masslass)

Recently I thought about this topic and of course my thoughts could not be expressed on any of the political blogs, politically correct or not, they are simply not germane to current politics. The following is not meant to provoke, as I just mean to question not judge.

I am a Russian-Jewish immigrant to the US. Came here in 1990 at a tender young age of 13. Now, I've "americanized" or assimilated enough that I don't even think about Russian culture, but it's not that I adopted a different culture. I think I almost prefer to think of myself as culture-less American. I just don't think in terms of culture. I think in terms of right and wrong, sensible and senseless, rational and irrational, good for humanity or otherwise. Of course my concepts of those things are ultimately colored by the Western Civilization's preferences.

Ender :: Is our Planet's Cultural Diversity a good thing?
Often times I hear people saying that they are proud of their culture, and how important their heritage is to them, etc etc. It's all fine and good to respect your heritage and remember it, but is it really important to perpetuate the multitudes of cultures that exist in our world? As far as I can see, a lot of the cultural baggage continues to divide humanity. Whether it is tied to religion or not, cultures set a lot of the both soft and hard rules for how to live our lives, socials mores, and how we view those on the outside. Some cultures are more open than others, but they do color how we perceive the world. In my view, those lines on our perceptions are limiting our abilities to work together.

Italian, Jewish, African, Chinese, Russian, French, Latin, Caribbean, etc - when I hear those words in describing one's heritage, they are often followed by some generalized spiel about some aspect of their life being more important in their culture, or possible even less important if used in a negative way.

And look outside of US - in many of the countries around the world, people view others as outsiders because they do not conform to their culture. Which in turn leads to tensions when "outsiders" prefer keeping their own cultural heritage, and the natives get offended that their culture is not adapted. Of course there is some validity to the latter since guests do have to conduct themselves in accordance to the reality of their situation. However if cultural barriers were diluted, the whole world would be a friendlier and less judging place.

Just how important is this cultural baggage that we brought with us through time? Why is the cultural wisdom so prized? Historically we've discarded a vast majority of the scientific thought as invalid and continue to do so as we are able to see our world with higher accuracy and greater technology. So why do we keep clinging to some of the cultural baggage simply because we've always done things that way or always had a certain "special emphasis" on various aspects of our lives.

Our heritage is an accident of birth. Are we obligated to perpetuate our ethnic/racial/cultural/whatever guidelines without critical examination of it, as we do with science?

As our world becomes a smaller place, there is a greater potential for a clash of cultures but with more interaction there is also a greater potential for blunting some of the sharper edges as we begin to understand that others might simply have a different approach to getting to the same place in life, and that their difference is not threatening our approach.

I think in terms of human beings and it annoys me to hear different groups of human beings being defined by their differences from me. I can't wait till the time when everyone defines themselves in terms of their station in life and not based on belonging to a particular group with a particular heritage.

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any thoughts? (8.00 / 4)
A vast majority of the science fiction novels I read continues with the preservation of cultures well into the future, but with much less importance as we move beyond Earth and start looking at ourselves as one species.

Wow!!! Oh, wow!!!!!!!! (8.00 / 2)
Oh Ender.. this is just wonderful..  All of it!  

And yes:

start looking at ourselves as one species.
 

..it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.  ~ Matthew Norman  

[ Parent ]
hey thanks! (8.00 / 2)
Sometimes you start thinking about a topic, and then realise there is no one to really share it with without incurring a wrath of some narrow political hammer.

Besides, this is not exactly political.


[ Parent ]
No, it isn't political (8.00 / 2)
it's human.  Pretty much it seems we've lost the human side of politics somewhere along the way.

But what this is is exactly what pf is striving for... a new thought process.  Hopefully finding a way to a better world, by-passing politics because that appears to be the only way forward.

..it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.  ~ Matthew Norman  


[ Parent ]
I take my direction from Sesame Street... (8.00 / 2)
we are all earthlings.

but I don't mind the differences. i don't want to be homogenized.

i love cultural differences. ideas. voices. traditions. food. clothes.

this is where i want to be:

As our world becomes a smaller place, there is a greater potential for a clash of cultures but with more interaction there is also a greater potential for blunting some of the sharper edges as we begin to understand that others might simply have a different approach to getting to the same place in life, and that their difference is not threatening our approach.

you can be different without threatening who i am or what i believe in.

yet i accept that there are some things i will not accept, whether these things be cultural or religious... certain practices are wrong, from my perspective.

so be it.


simplify... writing in the rAw


Ah, but having a place to (7.50 / 2)
safely discuss those differences.. (here at witr, for those lacking the subtle gene)..how wonderful is that?!!

And pf?  Your above quote, especially the bold part... says it all.

..their difference is not threatening our approach.


..it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.  ~ Matthew Norman  

[ Parent ]
dat is joist (8.00 / 1)
that is correct! safe place!

simplify... writing in the rAw

[ Parent ]
to be honest (7.00 / 3)
I like a lot of those different cultural things as well - especially food :) And my wife is from a very different culture that I respect. So I get a lot of exposure to different things.

Yet at the same time cultural differences cause so much strife among people.

Religious differences in my mind are the worst offenders, and it is my hope that those fade away over time. And indeed our world is turning more secular with every passing year. Less religion is my personal preference.


[ Parent ]
you know what they say: (8.00 / 1)
when you wipe out cancer, then something else will pop up.

i don't know if we are supposed to wipe out strife.

i think we are supposed to strive though.

and i think that's where the hole is now. most of the people in "control" of things right now could care less about greatness or quality or integrity.

we might be able to put up with the myriad catastrophes waiting on us... only if we had people we trusted to lead us through it.

we are leaderless, rudderless, and that's the crux of it, to me.



simplify... writing in the rAw


[ Parent ]
that is also one of my main complaints (7.00 / 1)
"we are leaderless, rudderless, and that's the crux of it, to me."

It seemed like real leadership has vanished in recent decades and no one is available to step up and take a stand. Instead we get a bunch of mealy mouthed wimps taking the temperature of the electorate (and their "sponsors") for every little thing.


[ Parent ]
I'm gonna get bit for staying up (8.00 / 2)
after I said I was going to bed, but so it goes.

I'm reminded of a drollerie perpetrated by one of my colleagues in the Soviet Studies program at U of WA:  the Soviets and Americans can't get along because the Soviets have no history (a tenet of Marxism) and the Americans have no culture.  

"Culture" is a hugely loaded, and ambiguous, term, seems to me.  I live in a small valley in a large-ish state, a valley that prides itself on a certain 'culture', but if you slice and dice, you are almost immediately made aware that said 'culture' means something very different to each interlocutor.  This is fairly universal where culture is concerned, I'd suggest.  For instance, Mr or Ms Americaricature believes that his/her nation has a culture of (fill in the blank), and that the French, or the Arabs, or even the Brits, can't possibly understand or share in or value said culture.  Dig a little deeper, and you find that Mr Americaricature thinks Ira Glass is the last word in quasi-philosophical endeavor, while Ms Americaricature digs her some Rush.  Meanwhile, Harry Americaricature, heretofore known as "Mr.", has a brother named Barry, who likewise worships at the Glass idol, but also has caught him some God, while Harry remains proudly agnostic.  Sister Mary Americaricature is, indeed, a Sister, so she shares the monoGod but considers Barry to be little better than an apostate, because he prays standing up.

In Tashkent, 20 years ago, I had a couple of young friends.  One, Kodyr, was highly-educated, spoke delightful English, and was fairly seriously Russified in many respects; he came from the Fergana Valley, up toward Kyrghyzstan, and was an ethnic Uzbek.  The other, Nurali, was on the ragged edge of surly, and I seldom saw any real spark of intellect, although he was clearly not dumb; his English was fairly bad, his Russian was pretty questionable as well, and his offer to help me learn Uzbek was suspect, given that he was an ethnic Tajik, and really should have been speaking something like Farsi.  The first time I brought these two lads together, it was like putting two strange male cats together in the presence of a lady cat in estrus.  I was completely clueless, and finally asked what was up.  The answer had nothing to do with ethnicity or language or anything that one normally associates with culture.  Instead, the answer I got from Kodyr was, "I'm supposed to hate him because he's from the other side of the river".

Go figure.


Glad you stayed up.. (8.00 / 1)
You've brought a needed conversation...

A Greek and a Turk were fighting.  When asked what the fight was about the Turk said, "His uncle killed my uncle."  When asked when this happened the reply was, "1262"... how does one reason with this?... You're from the wrong side of the river or someone killed someone 800 years ago..  Maybe it's because we are a relatively young country that don't understand ... although I understand the Hatfields and the McCoys just recently settled their little spat..  

..it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.  ~ Matthew Norman  


[ Parent ]
we need more original (6.50 / 2)
voices writing here flag.

you've got fresh perspective. there is weight and maturity in your writing. yet that inner Huck is never far below the surface.

we could use you here.

no pressure of course.

simplify... writing in the rAw


[ Parent ]
should be some weight and maturity (4.00 / 1)
given that I'm old and still need to lose a few lbs.  as for the "huck", I think you need to move the initial letter two positions to the left to be accurate.

as for pressure, what's that?  main problem with being around is that I'm way too busy way too much of the time, what with being useful in a hesitant kind of way and ministering to my fan club and all.


[ Parent ]
nice post (0.00 / 0)
Such a kind of article is really awesome,I daily read your blogs and give my notice for that here this article is too great and so interesting.Sparta 101D

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