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Cultural Relations Can Be Challenging For The Open-Minded

Cultural Relations Can Be Challenging For The Open-Minded

When it comes to relating to different cultures we often think we are pretty open-minded until we are put to the test. Sure, we love to travel to different countries and eat ethnic food - we then feel we have covered all the basics for having a positive relationship with different cultures. With our ego of self-righteousness, we may have a few friends of a different race and a few people we know who were born outside of the country we call home. We're good... Right? We are Totally on the humanity and cultural train for diversity in our lives. Some would call this being a little vain.

In reality, we don't have a good relationship with people from another culture at all nor outside of our skin color. I don't mean skin color as only black people or white people. This includes cultures of relative color having biased notions about them, as well. Basically, we don't truly know anything or try to know anything other than what we have been taught or the minor questions we may ask. We have a better relationship perspective with the cashier at our regular go-to gas station than the people we call our friends from a different race or ethnicity. Let me break this down. We have to put ourselves in the mind frame of an old and overused quote..."You have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes", and to understand their disposition.

Photo: Joshua Earle

Photo: Joshua Earle

There are so many factors to consider when we truly say we are open-minded to any different nation or culture. Education, social standing, religion, personality, belief structure, past experience, affection shown in the home, and yes, the word that drives everyone up a wall, oppression. I use the word oppression because we rarely know what someone from another nation or ethnicity has seen or been through and the effects it has played on the structure of their being. I truly have a lot of friends from different backgrounds and countries. They all have a different story about their experiences and cultural environment. By expressing interest and them sharing, it gives me some aspects as to why they left the place they call home and their reserved nature. I never ask too many in-depth questions because nobody wants anyone prying into their personal life but I don't want to be ignorant of who they are as an individual either. I want to always be aware and truly listen to the people who enter my life. Most of them express their tragedies and joys.

For a better relationship with anyone, we must erase the thought that we truly know a person. Too often, people assume they know about other cultures religion, ancestors history and origin. For instance, how many times have you heard someone say something or read misinformed information about anyone of the Islamic faith? Or heard derogatory remarks? They feel everyone who is a Muslim has the same mentality and actions. And, they feel everyone who is Muslim have the same faith practice or feel threatened by the Islamic faith. Yet, when questioned about their comments or actions, they feel as though they are open-minded and accepting of different nations and cultures. The loyalty we often feel towards our own culture and traditions can sometimes mean we find it difficult to understand another’s.

By assuming, we know so much about another culture tends to cause us to show no boundaries or respect. It also defeats strengthening communication and everyone to be easily offended. As Paulo Coelho said, "Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first, they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions."





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