Saturday, December 16

Culture Wars: Ethnocentrism And Hate

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            Something that I believe is extremely important for people to learn is the concept that everything we know is culturally and socially constructed. If this concept becomes universally realized then humanity would be much better off.

            As an American, I can easily declare that we are a nation of ethnocentrists. Ethnocentrism is the idea that one’s own culture is “normal” or correct, and other cultures are abnormal and/or incorrect. How we act, what we wear, what we see as normal, are all shaped by the society and culture we have grown up in. America, a nation fueled by ethnocentrism believes that what we believe and do, is the end-all-be-all.

            Ethnocentrism is what caused the degradation of the Native American culture. Because European Americans had the audacity to believe that their culture is the norm, they ravaged the many Native Americans and through assimilation programs, destroyed what was left of a beautiful culture.

            Ethnocentrism is what fuels colonialism and racism. The belief that Christianity and Christian customs are the only true way is a value that caused many violent outbreaks through the years of humanity.

            We must learn that there are other cultures out there, and though they may be strange in appearance to us, our customs seem just as strange to them.

            In Mongolia, mothers have been known to breastfeed their children even to the age of nine. It is also acceptable for a mother to offer other adult men and women in the house some of her milk if her breasts are engorged. This is because the breast is not seen as a sexual symbol in Mongolia. In America, it would seem outright disgusting and somewhat sexually deviant for a woman to be breastfeeding her baby until the age of nine, or for a mother to offer adult men some of the leftover milk from her bosom. This is because of the sexual stigma tied to the breast within America.

            While Americans see cow milk as a bountiful, healthy beverage, Mongolians see it as disgusting. While Mongolians see breast milk as an extremely healthy drink, Americans see it as repulsive.

            What I am trying to say is that cultures are different and we must learn to view cultures that are different from our own with a more culturally universal lens. This means that we must view the culture through the lens of that particular culture, keeping in mind their beliefs, norms, and values. Only when this is realized can the world be at peace. For as long as there are men who feel that their way of life is best, there will always be racism, hate, and war.

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