01 January 2013

Starting the New Year with... some Cross-Cultural Connections

Things that I'm thinking about as this 2013 begins... 
"Western and Two-Thirds World cultures have so much to offer that we must think in terms of blending, learning from each other and synergizing our strengths. ...God created every culture to contribute to the orchestra and chorus, which is intended to reveal His majesty." (p. 134)

"Are you normal? Ponder this question for a moment. Do you think you are normal? Many people are not sure how to respond, so they try to avoid a direct answer. Deep down, most of us believe we are normal... and we probably are. Believing we are normal does not get us into trouble; something else does. There is a fine line that we unconsciously cross that causes the majority of the problems. When we think we are normal, we make a rather fatal slip into believing that we also are the norm by which everything and everyone else can be judged. We do this without thinking. But every time we make a negative attribution, we risk saying rather loudly to those around us, 'That is not like me. Therefore it is inferior, wrong and unacceptable.' " (p. 59)

   Differences are not the problem.... The way these differences are expressed is the problem. For example, everyone values and uses time.  However the confusion arises when some cultures demonstrate their use of time differently. Everyone wants and deserves respect (status) but some cultures display it differently. If you show me respect in a way I'm not accustomed to or not expecting, I will consider you disrespectful. The misunderstanding comes not from the value itself but in how it is demonstrated in day-to-day living. Thus we must try to separate the value from its expression. Our ability to do this will help us to respond in culturally appropriate ways rather than simply react out of our cultural frame of reference. 
   It is important, therefore, to realize that as human beings we often desire the same thing, but fail to realize it. We focus on the way a value is lived rather than on the value itself. Seeing the value unites us in our humanity. Seeing the difference in expression moves us toward divisiveness. (p. 180)
(from Cross Cultural Connections, by Duane Elmer)

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