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Learning to live together: promoting tolerance and diversity in globalized societies

Learning to live together

The world is a global village but still divided. Television brings foreign lands and people into our living rooms. Air travel makes it possible to visit those lands and share good times with its dwellers. Increasingly, there is economic interdependency among nations. Ideas, information, tourism has become a force for good, people uprooting themselves in search of other s and their cultures, cultures merge and adapt to one another, thus as the people of the world come together, we witness an emerging world culture. in spite of greater knowledge of others culture and religion ,people are still influenced by bias and prejudice .The still- present barriers to open communication and understanding are yet to be reached. But the case still remains that while peoples and cultures intermingle, not all see one another as brothers. To create a society where we can share our values beyond cultural and religions barriers still stand as a threat to where our world is heading.

The evidence is no farther away than newspaper reports of bigotry, hatred of foreigners, ethnic cleansing, racial strife, religions riots, massage of civilians, killing, rape camps, torture or genocide. From a pessimist point of view, most of us can do little or nothing to change the cause. For many of us, however, problems come from a lack of communications with the foreigners with whom we come into contact - neighbors, workmates, or schoolmates. But it seems to be rather absurd that people of different ethnic groups so often find it difficult to trust and appreciate one another. To attain to a glorious success still, we must learn to appreciate and trust ourselves. To understand it better, most of us appreciate the rich variety of food, music, and color as well as the many kind of plants, bird animals and mountains. But somehow our appreciation of variety does not always carry over to people who do not think and act in the same way that we do. Lack of appreciation for ourselves pose a threat to the communication. It serves as a wall that block communication. Instead of looking at the positive aspect of diversity among people, many tend to focus on the differences and make them a point of contention.

Admittedly, culture influences who we are. Culture has been broadly defined as a set of shared ideas, customs, beliefs and knowledge that characterizes a way of life. We learn many cultural values through direct teaching, but we also absorb much without even being aware of it. It is a lens through which we see the world. Of course, what we are as individuals does not depend on just our cultural background. Within every culture and religion there are variations among people. What we are is determined by many factors like, genetics, experiences in life and others. What often hinders communication between those of different cultures is that people everywhere tend to assume that their own culture is better. Most of us think that our beliefs, values, traditions, style of dress, and ideas about beauty are correct, proper and better than any other alternatives. Ethnocentrism is universal, the fact that it is universal; it makes people to judge other cultures according to the values of their own group. Members of nearly all the world’s cultures regards their own way of life as superior to that of even closely related neighbors. Examples of intolerance towards those of other cultures abound. Strong Ethnocentrism views can lead to conflict and hostility. More so, broadening our outlook will attract the good we want or expect from others.

Usually, the people we chose to be our friends are those much like ourselves, people who share out attitude and values. We trust and understand them. We feel relaxed in their company. If we view the behavior of another person as odd or abnormal, our friend will probably agree with us because our friends share our belief and attitude. We can then gain by communicating with others who differ from us because of cultural background. For one thing, good communication will help us to understand the reasons why others think and act as they do. Clearly, mutual understanding of each other’s cultural background can do much to remove social prejudice. The more we come to know people of other culture, not only do we improve our understanding of others but we also understand ourselves better. The inability to see the culture of ones own society as a whole call for a degree of objectivity, which is rarely if never achieved. An appreciation of other cultures can enrich our lives by broadening our outlook, so that we better understand both ourselves and that of others. While cultural heritage and Ethnocentrism thinking can be walls against achieving a better world, they do not have to be. Those walls can be breached. To build solid brides, walls must be destroyed. We did not choose the family or nation into which we were born, nor did we decide what culture would shape our thinking. We are all subject to time and circumstance. But we can control how we view others and how we act towards them. All of us are members of the same human family and thus have much in common. Looking for the things we have in common make communication easier.

All of us want good friend and need to feel loved and respected. Everybody seek to avoid physical and emotional pain. This is not to say that we should consider others superior to us in everything, rather, we should realize that in some areas of life, others are superior to us. We should never think that either our culture or we has a monopoly on all that is good. The heart of a toddler does not harbor prejudice. Little children can pick negative attitudes from adults, televisions or elsewhere. At a little age, a child will often readily play with a child of different race. At a certain stage, he may reject people of another tribe race or religion. During his formative years, he acquires a collection of viewpoints that may last a lifetime. Nevertheless, the person who has developed a strong prejudice usually clings to his preconceived notions. He may insist to his preconceived notions. He may insist on stereotyping thousands or even millions of people, assuming that they all share certain bad qualities. Any negative experience, even it involves just on person from that groups, serve to reinforce his prejudice.

Positive experiences, on the other hands, are usually disregarded as exceptions to the rules. If prejudice can be learned, it can also be unlearned understanding that human is unique is a key to fighting any scar we may have.

Finally, we are the world; tools have been made available to fight barriers that come up as a result of culture, ethnic and religious differences. We must fight to be impartial; it gives us powerful incentives to do so. To reap the reward of fighting prejudice that is many. As we mix with people from other backgrounds our lives are enriched. We must work to conquer evil forever. At least to create an enabling environment where peace would reign. Indeed a classless society
Published: 2008-08-23
Author: emmanuel ugokwe

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