Currently we are doing some training for living and working in a cross-cultural setting. The training is in Thailand because it is much cheaper than in America (and the weather is definitely a perk).
The training isn’t specifically about ‘respect’ but it is the idea that keeps popping out at me and what I keep thinking about.
Respect is something I have always valued but I haven’t seen how much my ideas about life weren’t in line with this value.
I think it is easy to loose respect for others when they are different from me.
I have been processing and thinking about how my culture, my country and my religion often seem to be disrespectful of others.
I’m not trying to make generalities or say that everyone is like this. I’m not saying anyone is intending to be disrespectful of others. I am just seeing in my own thinking and in how I talk and live my life how I can fall into it sometime.
Really, this comes down to human nature. People all over the world can struggle to truely respect others. For the most part, everyone looks at things differently and finds different ways to look down on the rest of the world. This isn’t an excuse for me to do it and the realization that others see things in different ways helps me to have respect for them.
Western/First World culture (located all over the world) has a lot of superiority issues. Clearly, western society is more developed in technology, healthcare, organization, education, and other areas. However, these can fall into an assumption that our cultures are superior. But who defines the criteria for which culture is better? To say we are better because of certain areas doesn’t mean our cultures are ‘better’.
Our culture is far from perfect and there is a lot we can learn from other cultures. Where we can share things like technology or medicine, they can share with us many things as well.
I was born in Canada but became American a few years ago (to match citizenship with my darling family). I have lived my adult live (since I was 17) in the US and there are many wonderful things about America. … however, respect for the rest of the world isn’t usually one of them.
There seems a fear of showing weakness. Wanting to look like we have everything figured out as a country. Showing a perfect ‘face’. Telling the rest of the world what they should be doing or how they should be acting in international relations.
But honestly, the US doesn’t have everything figured out… It seems like we could get much farther with a mindful or discerning student attitude instead of a ‘professor’ mentality.
This idea is probably closest to my heart and has been hardest for me to wrap my mind around. The idea that Christianity is the ‘true’ religion, that everyone else would be better off if they became Christian, and the world would be a wonderful place if everyone was Christian… is kinda part of the underlying beliefs of the religion… whether they are verbalized or not.
The crazy thing is that many people all over the world believe the same thing… only about their religion.
It isn’t that I don’t believe my Christian beliefs, I do, but the perspective of ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong and needs me to teach them’ is really… um… disrespectful.
There is a distinct possibility that the world doesn’t need the US to direct, fix, and help the rest of the world or else it will fall apart. And there is a good possibility that my Christian religion would not bring peace to the world either… just saying… based on it’s history.
Why do we think we have all the answers in culture, government, and religion? Is it really working (widespread) for us? Why do we see ourselves as such qualified teachers?
The disrespectfulness of these ideas really hit me.
And this is what I am thinking about over these few weeks and trying to wrap my mind around.
I want to have a respect for all people – a love for all people. Those who are like me and those who think differently. I believe deeply that every person has value and makes decisions based on information and situations surrounding them. No one is perfect and I shouldn’t judge the value of someone else based on their imperfections.
I believe I don’t need to agree with people to respect them. However, respect and understanding is something I can give to others no matter who they are or what they think.
… so there’s my ‘piece’. Thanks for reading!