the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of people
I have been pondering for quite a bit over the correlation between one’s level of cultural awareness and the environment he or she lives in; the extent of the role the community and choice of social circle plays on influencing the one’s level of cultural awareness and sensitivity.
Given our exposure and reliance on the internet and other forms of mass media, is it fair to assume that we have grown to be more culturally educated and sensitive?
I made a valiant attempt to ask my friend T about his thoughts on this particular topic but my text message was fueled by my disbelief that someone whom I assumed to be more culturally aware, due to the said person’s upbringing in a multicultural city, was actually rather ignorant. I realized at that moment that I was taking offence to something that was not in all senses offensive and once I took a step back to observe the bigger picture and with help from T, I was able to calmly deduce my version of the answer to the question posed above.
In an era driven by instant gratification, we rely on the internet to provide us with quick and easy-to-comprehend answers but the internet tends to be the second resort after the friends-and-family option has been exhausted which brings in to question the influence of our peers on shaping our awareness. For example, you see a sign in a restaurant and it says ‘halal’ or ‘kosher’, you proceed to ask the friend you are with what it means, and let’s say you friend responds by saying oh it means Muslims or Jews can consume food from this establishment. If you accepted that answer and showed little interest in understanding what it actually means, your education on Judaism or Islam might take a temporary or indefinite pause there. However, if you proceeded to look deeper, the answers could have sparked a desire to want to learn more.
Having access to information is completely independent from having the desire to utilize the information. T raised a good point when he reminded me of how we tend to pay more attention to topics or themes we are more interested in, that is we are more likely to actively source for information on certain core areas of interests than we are on areas that do not capture our attention. Yet, when it comes to living in a multicultural society, I feel that is of utmost importance to create a safe space that allows and encourages dialogues and exchanges. For that to occur we must be willing to break down the walls and replace them with bridges of love, acceptance and mutual respect.
In the words of my very wise friend T, “Even in the most diverse places, many people are unaware and are blind to the visceral uniqueness offered by those around us.” At the end of the day it truly comes down to CHOICE: we can choose to only see parts of the world where traditions are easy to understand, while ignoring other parts where traditions might be richer and information content more dense or we can make a conscious effort to understand the people around us to improve our cultural sensitivity. Information is being afforded to us in the masses, there are plenty of ways to go about it, it could be in the form of video or a blog entry or a book, take on the challenge to venture beyond the comfort of your own social circle or what you are familiar with. Your immediate social circle might consist of people of the same race as you or not but that should not be used as an excuse to be ignorant. In this truly globalized world we reside in, you are bound to have interactions with individuals of different races and when that inevitable interaction occurs I hope you are prepared to have a meaningful non-offensive, culturally sensitive and well-informed conversation!
thanx for being my inspiration T 🙂 xo
spread peace & love always,