Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Notes from Aspen - Carriers of culture

We are all carriers of our culture - whether we want to be or not. We carry inside us the cumulative experiences of our ancestors and ourselves, the present reality in which we live, and the hopes for the future.

Each of us carrys a different culture. With those close to us in family, time, or place, we share many aspects of a common culture. With others, we have a widely different culture.

If we can manage this diversity effectively, taking the best that each individual brings, the result can be better than any of us can realize individually. But diversity can also lead to conflict, when our cultural differences are so varied that they seem in opposition to one another.

It is not realistic that we will not make judgments about others. That is a part of our human nature. Making prudent judgments of the world around us is essential to success. But by us having the privilege of judging others, they have the privilege of judging us as well.

At one point during the day, we were reading a play about the Nigerian Yorubian culture. The moderator asked if the Yorubian culture was Aristotelian (as in an aristocratic society described by Aristotle). Someone in the group responded that an equally valid question, and perhaps a more enlightening question, might be is Aristotelian culture Yorubian. Putting on the other person’s shoes is the first step to finding the common ground where we can benefit each other.

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