Wouldn’t it be nice if your children grew up in a world where one group of people didn’t hate another? Where we didn’t think of those who are different from us as all being “terrorists” or any of the many other derogatory names people call each other?
This goal of accepting cultural diversity is probably easier to obtain than making politicians work for the good of the people, rather than mainly for those who donate the most money for their campaigns.
But, I don’t want to talk about politicians or politics. Not even about religion or nationalism. I want to tell you the wonderful things you can learn about this world when you get to know people born across the globe—or even those in your neighborhood whose upbringing differs from yours.
Why is understanding culture important?
If you take away all the national pride, political agendas, and religious (not spiritual) dogmas, you have the core of who we are. Not that these ideals are wrong when properly understood and implemented, but they can promote so much hate and antagonism by extremists that they really don’t define who we are as individuals or as a community.
Think of all the wars started on the premise of each of those three ideologies.
Learning about cultural diversity can be such a wonderful adventure. The common experiences that people share influence their perception of the world and consequently how they behave with each other and those outside their community.
For example, I’ve researched Slavic folklore for the books I write with a friend under the pen name Ronesa Aveela. Many old “superstitions” exist today (much like we have superstitions about walking under a ladder and avoiding black cats). But, to understand the people who practice rituals around these beliefs, you have to go back many, many years to understand the origins of these beliefs, and how they may still affect the way people behave today.
In future “Mom’s Favorite Reads” newsletters, I’ll talk about some of these beliefs and rituals in more detail, but for now I’ll give you an example from my debut novel, Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.
People who believe in evil spirits may be more cautious around others. In the above story, Maria is constantly giving Stefan charms to ward off the evil she believes intends to harm him. As an outsider, Stefan reacts differently to her actions than people who have lived with her in the village.
Is either of them right or wrong? No. Different cultures shaped their view of what evil spirits are, or if they even are, or if they even exist. Will living in a place that is vastly different from your own change your perception? Quite possibly, yes.
Then the question arises: Should people who move to another country forget about their heritage and immerse themselves in their new culture? Or should they retain the purity of their traditions, ignoring all else? Or perhaps a bit of both – creating new traditions from each culture?
There is no set answer. Everyone is different, so what works for one person or family may not be appropriate for another. Some beliefs may be so strongly ingrained into people’s personalities that no amount of time can erase them. While other beliefs may pass by the wayside, people may openly embrace new beliefs, or incorporate them into what they believe, thereby creating new traditions.
- Provide comfort and security: Customs, traditions, and beliefs give people hope for a better life for themselves and their children.
- Pass on cultural and religious heritage: Traditions are a great way to teach children about the family’s cultural and religious history, giving them personal identity.
- Connect generations: Spending time with older generations is a great way to build memories and enables people to learn about beliefs, traditions, and heritage.
We’ll leave you with a quote from “Mystical Emona” where Peter is telling Stefan about Sultana, a znahar, a woman who heals with herbs. Many people considered her a witch.
“When people don’t understand things, they call them bad. Miracles still happen, but you need to believe deep in your heart before you can experience them.”
So culture is about believing.
Sometimes, perceptions are too deeply ingrained into adults to ever hope to change their way of thinking. Our children are the hope for a better future for not only them, but for generations to come. When we can teach the young to accept, and not fear or hate, others, we can take a step toward a brighter future for everyone.
Teach them to read. Teach them to accept our differences.
by Rebecca Carter (a.k.a Ronesa Aveela)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RonesaAveela.
Twitter – @Ronesa_Aveela.