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Struggling With Our Neighbors...

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Posted 6th August 2008 at 03:57 PM by Alton Hargrave

One of the hardest things we are faced with each day is how to deal with people from all over the world. Our world is composed of people from many different cultures. If we are to have peace in the world, we need to understand that we are not all alike. We don't all look alike, we don't all have the same values insofar as religion, human rights, standards of living, etc.

The natural tendency is to condemn other cultures. This is brought on by fear due to a lack of knowledge of other peoples and how they value things. Most people in the world just want to live their lives in peace and be left to practice their own religion. There are a minority of people all over the world that really want to wreck damage on others. Typically, these people will use religion and culture to justify their actions. This sort of thing has been going on for many thousands of years. For them, it doesn't matter what the excuse is, any old excuse will do.

An example of culture difference is the statement "The ends justifies the means." What does it refer to? Simply put, it says that it is acceptable to do anything, such as lying or cheating, if it gets you the result you are looking for. So, is it fair play to do this? Most cultures say not. Most, but not all. So, if you assume that everyone you deal with will not tell a lie or cheat, just because you would not, you may discover that everyone is not playing by the same set of rules.

Ever played a game of checkers? Most of us have. Checkers is a rather simple board game with a simple set of rules. How about Chess? Another board game, but with a different, and somewhat more complex set of rules. Both use the same board. But, the players and the rules differ. Could you imagine a game in which one player is playing checkers and following the checkers rules, while the opponent is playing chess and using the chess rules.
What would the result be? A clash of tempers as each player discovers that the other guy is making moves that are illegal and unfair. An inability to get along as each player feels that the other guy is not "playing by the rules".

The board game scenario is seemingly far fetched, but is an example of what happens when two entities, such as world leaders, engage in talks when neither understands the others culture. They are literally playing by a different set of rules and are thus unable to get along. Every day, this situation goes on from the neighborhood level right up to the international level.

Anyhow, if we are to stay at peace with other peoples, getting a rudimentary education of different cultures is essential. That alleviates much of the fear that leads to over reaction at times and perpetuates problems.
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