Making Cultural Relativism Reality

Jessica - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in a lot of things. I’m a nineteen- year- old, liberal college student and I have a unique set of beliefs, just like anyone else. Sitting in Anthropology class it dawned on me. I had always been intrigued with other cultures and the ways of the world, which influences everything from the music I listen to the bumper stickers on my car. But, I believe in something that is greater than music or bumper stickers. I believe that every individual’s beliefs and actions are meaningful and must be view in terms of their own culture. Listening to that stance, you probably thought “duh, everyone believes that.” But do they really? It is possible that everyone believes this, but considering the current state of our World probably not. Not only must believe that everyone’s culture and customs are valuable, we must put this idea into action. We must use this concept when we are dealing with foreign policy and education.

Think back to elementary school, did you ever learn about other cultures? In many cases, you probably did. But when I think back to my experiences in elementary and middle school this subject was lightly touched upon. When we did discuss other cultures it was with great shock. I always had it in my mind that this other culture we were studying was “second rate.” I used to imagine these other cultures as being wrong, or behind the times. Is this really how we should be showing our kids the World? Should we be showing them these cultures in a light that doesn’t express them as equal? In actuality these areas just have their own way of doing things. When I finally awoke and realized that nothing has meaning without something else, I began to understand how these other cultures could be so different. For cultures that have no concept of race how could they have a concept of racism or discrimination?

This idea of cultural relativity should play a large role in today’s foreign policy, but for the most part it does not. Before we start to show these foreign regions how they should run their government or how they should live we must first understand the concepts and ideals of their culture. Many of us have the idea of the U.S. as a superpower in our heads, which is a great form of patriotism but greatly closes our eyes to other societies. We no longer see each culture on the same playing field.

In conclusion, I feel having equal concepts of other cultures is the key to surviving in the future. I strongly believe that opening our eyes and looking at the world around us we can see that every culture is meaningful in its own right. Cultural Relativism must be taken into action in the way we live our lives, the way we educate our children and the way we make foreign policy.