Friday, November 12, 2010

Strength in Diversity

We live in a broad, varied world of peoples, cultures, languages, foods, philosophies, religions. The world is full of variations on all levels. Still, through the wonders of technology, the world seems to grow smaller every day. A few years ago, as part of a marketing campaign a telecom company used the audio of an operator answering the phone, “Kuala Lumpur!” Americans are dreadful with geography. I’m sure many still do not know where in the world Kuala Lumpur is. Exotic as it may be, when something happens in Kuala Lumpur, we can know about it in minutes. At the same time, we can read about what is happening in Warsaw, Poland. This makes the world seem so much smaller than it is. Electronic communications, high-speed travel and various other technologies have made our world accessible to more people. I am grateful for that accessibility.

Has the small-town feel of world news and travel translated into a place where we all look the same, eat the same, think the same, and do the same things? No, it hasn’t. In fact, we’re lucky our cultures have not intermingled into one gray blob of cultural mud.

I am grateful for the strength and variety of culture. From the world we have incredibly varying examples of music styles, cuisine, dress, and tradition. Even a reduced view of the world into one narrow segment, reveals a great diversity.

Milwaukee’s Jack experiences life completely different than Juan who lives in Rio de Janeiro. In fact, Jack probably knows as little about Juan as Juan knows about Jack. Jack prefers to watch football only when the Packers are playing. Juan plays for the Brazil national football team. These “Football” games aren’t even the same sport. Preferences aside, both sports are exciting examples of team play and personal exertion, teamwork and individual strength.

The Americans call him Santa Claus. The traditions surrounding this jolly old fellow are immense. His name changes, certain events change, his role during the Christmas holidays change as well. All depending on where you are in the Christian world. Does this take away from who he is? No, it strengthens his persona.

I am grateful I was blessed to spend a couple years in Japan. I grew to love that land, the people living there and the culture in which they live. My experience was over 20 years ago. Still, there’s a lot I learned while I was there and still more since I’ve been home. I would not have learned most of these things had I not been blessed with that wonderful experience. If I didn’t have my eyes opened to another culture, I would not have enjoyed many of the blessings that have been a part of my life since. I would not have been open to learning about various other cultures since I’ve been back, either.

I am grateful for the restaurants that present a wonderful peek into various cultures. Food is just one aspect but a very important part of a culture. The varying tastes, textures and colors are testimony to the wonders that come from all over the world. Gravies from one part of the world were originally created for a whole different set of reasons than the sauces of another region. Even when the same spices and herbs might be used, the results are incredible and different.

I am grateful for the strength we gain through having different cultures. Industry, Music, Medicine, Art and more have benefited from the perspective each culture has brought. The eastern mostly holistic view working with the western more segmented approach has advanced most aspects of our lives. It is through using the strengths of both that we’ll all be blessed.

I am grateful for this diversity and the blessings we all enjoy as part of a world community, though we might be living in different cultures. I am grateful for the technology that has allowed access to these things so we might all be more, better, stronger.
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