After growing up in a diverse community and then transitioning to a very homogenous suburban community has awakened me to many misconceptions that our society has about approaching the topic of culture and diversity. Instead of fear, we out to reach out with love as we encounter new ideas and perspectives.
1. Different isn’t Wrong.
I think one of the greatest misconceptions that people have about culture is that the customs that they are comfortable with are the only correct way of doing things. Everyone is guilty of judging those different than themselves even though we say we support diversity. Every culture has their own customs and rather than labeling them as “strange”, By adopting this ethnocentric perspective we ultimately limit ourselves from a vital learning experience.
2. Culture isn’t always comfortable.
We all love to surround ourselves by what’s safe. We prefer to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals that share or at least tolerate our political ideas, religious affiliations, and cultural norms. While it’s not inherently wrong to cling to those most like us, it diminishes our ability to truly grow and flourish. True human flourishing occurs when we find ourselves uncomfortably stretched and challenged by those quite different than us.
3. Diversity should change us.
The true beauty in diversity is when we let it impact us. I suggest that we should approach new cultures with open hands. By this I mean that rather than jumping in with our own preconceived notions and self-centered attitudes, we should adopt the mentality of a learner and a guest. Rather than continually asserting that our culture should be dominant, we should humble ourselves. Our first reaction to experiencing a culture different than our should be gratitude rather than judgement. We ought to let diversity be an inspiration and a challenge to us.
If we go about living our lives surrounded by only those who we are like, we miss out of the beauty found in conflicting perspectives. Different cultures enrich our lives and ultimately help us form our own unique identities.