Monday, December 11, 2006

Cultural differences

In my post on Forgiveness, I posted an addendum on multiculturalism. One of the follow-up comments put forth the view that one source of contention between cultures is the defensiveness that comes from being the "out," or minority view. The solution then, is for the dominant culture to reach out with support to the minority.

But what if the dominant culture really IS superior? Perhaps its superiority is precisely WHY it is dominant. Is such supportiveness reasonable in this context?

I do not accept the premise that all cultures are equivalent. Does anyone really contend that any human being really believes this? Even the multiculturalists must believe that their view that every culture is of equivalent value is superior to any alternative, parochial view. Humans cannot function absent belief that their perspective is accurate. This is why honest nihilists tend to commit suicide. But you see, if there is a clear difference between my perspective and yours, I am obligated at least to examine them and upon examination to adopt the one that is superior. This is why I blog.

This goes even deeper if there is a reason, moral or otherwise, for the two cultures to conflict. If their perspective are diametrically opposed, then the conflict is likely inevitable. And if they are mutually exclusive, then one or the other must be false and should be abandoned. I believe in the existence of absolute truth, so it is not possible to opposite premises to both be true.

It is, of course, possible for humans to be respectful in spite of their differences. It is one of the foundations on which Western civilization has been built. But if the non-dominant culture picks a fight, even from an understandable defensiveness, then it will be difficult for the dominant culture to sit quietly by and be called names. That is very much where American culture finds itself today.

1 comment:

dbackbarb said...

Hmm, survival of the fittest. Sounds eerily familiar.

There will always be ingroups and outgroups. Sometimes the outgroup assimilates with positive results; salsa is the most popular condiment in the U.S. because we have accepted this cultural pluralism. Personally, I prefer to be in the ingroup, but even if my "group" becomes subculture, expect me to remain persistent until it overcomes again.

And it will overcome.