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13 August 2005 Saturday

All cultures are not created equal

slated in mainstream, mused at 12:17 am

Alberto passed me this op-ed piece from the New York Times, by David Brooks: All Cultures Are Not Created Equal.

This really is a controversial subject. It’s along the same thread as “all men are not created equal”, isn’t it?
This is a long-standing subject of interest to me.

I do not believe all men are created equal. I do believe all men should be treated with reasonable consideration, respect, and open minds. ‘Reasonable’ is a very relative term, though, both upon the one doing the reasoning and the one being reasoned.

We’re not all the same. We all share similar characteristics and you can make broad generalizations about humans in general, and be mostly right, but there will be certain groups of humans who have very opposing characteristics, and there will be individuals scattered everywhere that thoroughly refute the general claim.

The idea that all men should be treated equally is far less sufferable than the idea that all men are created equally. We’re not all the same. Men are not the same as women; for the most part we are physically structured very differently, we tend to think rather differently, we have very different chemical/emotional makeups, and nature has given us very different roles in the life cycle.

Those intent on refusing the differences between men and women are simply not going to explore the differences and bridge the gap of understanding. It’s better than fine that we’re so different; recognizing our differences and striving to understand each other would bring us closer together and into a more harmonious coexistence, no matter how different we remain.

Jumping to the culture concern, the problem is not that everyone is different, but that we’re not okay with that.
Chinese eat cats and horses? what horrible people. Americans eat cows and pigs? disgusting blasphemy. tribes in South America eat humans? there can be nothing worse.
So it’s not our cup of tea. Why can’t it be theirs?

Humans are generally very social creatures. Even those of us who treasure space and quiet and moments of independent solitude, tend to appreciate the warmth and interaction of other human beings.
We cling to what we have. We grow very attached to our homes, or pieces of personal property, or to other individuals.
We like to build and spread and grow. Some may live contented lives in a small town and a simple life, but we generally tend to want to see more, do more, be more; build bigger, be famous, invent something new, learn something else, know something greater.
We’re also a great bunch of sheep. Some of us are leaders to a degree or another, but most of us need shephards, whether in the form of a parent, a president, or God.
Those are two somewhat conflicting points, actually… we want greatness, but we’re also sheep. Sometimes we can live contentedly in our caves until we learn there’s a world outside—then our caves are not enough. But some will hear about a world outside and refuse it and hate it and condemn it, for the familiarity of their cave.—Rather than understanding our differences, we despise our dissimilars, plaster an ‘EVIL’ sticker on their foreheads, and kill them if we can (or exercise other less obvious extermination tactics). There is no evil.
There isn’t. Not for the purposes of human beings and not at all for the purposes of understanding. Everything is a shade of grey, no matter how dark or how light. Everything has a reason, no matter how strange, unsatisfactory, or unattainable.

The field of cultural geography seems a beautiful one to study. It’s up there with human nature and the sad behavior of defensive groups—of which most everyone are to some degree.

No conclusions right now, there’s a whole lot of tangents i’m poised to go off on; those who believe they are oppressed will never be free, those who despise differences cannot recognize equality, and heterogeneousness is one of the biggest mysteries and most incredible and strange beauties of this world.

All cultures and people are not created equal. Like it or live with it anyway…. better for all if we try to know and accept the differences, and reach equality through respect and understanding.

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