Saturday, August 31, 2019

Cultural Relativism: A Way of Life Essay

â€Å"If you are my baby, it don’t matter if you’re black or white.† These words reverberate in my mind as I heard the news about Michael Jackson’s death. His song, Black or White is one of my favorites because it talks about a father’s acceptance of his child despite the baby’s color. Later, when I encountered the term cultural relativism in school, I understood better what the song wants to promote, and how this can be accomplished. Cultural relativism is commonly known as the practice of accepting and living harmoniously with people of different cultures. If we observe our society today, we will notice different kinds of people—Africans, Caucasians, Asians, Latinos, and a lot of mixtures coexist. Cultural relativism is what allows them to live in peace with each other, to accept and respect other cultures like they do their own. Considering the present scenario, we may say that cultural relativism is not just a practice or aspect of life, it is already a way of life, a must for every person to live and prosper. Ideally, a society that adheres to cultural relativism allows the existence and exchange of different cultures. Although this has not been fully realized in many places, we can guarantee that it is already a common aspect of the learning environment. In school, students get the chance to interact with others, and discover aspects of different cultures. Everyday interaction with Asians, African-Americans, and Latin Americans allows us to see that after all, it is not difficult to coexist with different people. Often, all we need is to provide opportunities for interaction and sharing. Specifically, in my dealings with different cultures, I learned to appreciate the hard work of the Chinese, the ingenuity of the Japanese, the friendliness of Filipinos, the family values of the Latinos, and the cool attitude of the African-Americans. Cultural relativism has helped me appreciate different cultures, and allowed me to grow more maturely. To practice cultural relativism, I personally follow three steps. First, I try to analyze why people are behaving the way they do. I rely on my background knowledge to analyze the situation. Next, I observe and see the positive effects of their practice, and third, I try to find more information about the practice by inquiring from the person or researching online. For example, seeing the Chinese sip the soup out of the bowl without using spoon initially made me felt indifferent. However, in applying cultural relativism, I tried to analyze why they do this instead of using a spoon. Then, I realized that the Chinese use chopsticks instead of spoon, making it impossible to have the soup without sipping it directly from the bowl. Also, one time I encountered a Japanese documentary showing a man perfecting a sword. He seemed mindless of the fire he used to shape the sword, and from there I wondered why the Japanese give such importance to swords when guns are more reliable for protection. Due to this, I searched the Internet for answers, and found out that perfecting swords is part of the Japanese Samurai culture, the military men in the history of Japan. I learned that the Samurais treat swords as their companion in battle, and swords serve as representations of them. Therefore, a Samurai’s sword should be well-kept at all times because it is a family inheritance and symbol of honor. Knowledge of others’ culture definitely helps us understand and appreciate them. However, there are also practices which I believe I cannot accept even though I already have a good grasp of cultural relativism. One of these is the suicide killing done by 9/11 hijackers. Unlike the Japanese version of suicide which hopes to express a person’s regret for a mistake committed, suicide killing among the Muslims intends to kill non-Muslims on the bases of religious and political conflicts. What makes it truly wrong is killing innocent people for some selfish intent. Considering this, cultural relativism becomes a difficult aspect of reality, similar to pushing a child to swallow a whole fresh egg straight to the stomach.

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