Resolving Cultural Tensions Through Education

Resolving Cultural Tensions Through Education

A Chapter by Ada

            Cultural differences and the misunderstanding thereof have long permitted the persistence of racial tensions.  Fear of “the other” is an instinct that allowed our species to survive yet is becoming a dangerously obsolete behaviour as globalization increases and conflicting systems are forced to collide.  We have come a long way from our tribal roots yet we continue to exhibit the intrinsic behaviours of such, rejecting the unfamiliar and waging war against that which it seems we haven’t the patience to take time to understand and perhaps even accept.  The world of man is getting increasingly smaller as our potential and development increases, yet our ignorance of ourselves persists.  In the very near future, we will be posed with the necessity to unify and accept all cultures and peoples as one or face the real threat of bringing about our own extinction as we seek to destroy, ultimately, ourselves.  Education could perhaps be the primary force that could save our future, if only it were more accessible to the global masses and given more emphasis in value cross-culturally.

            Throughout the centuries, there have always been the voices that cry out for unity of all peoples, instilling the idea that we are indeed all equal and share the same sufferings and passions at our core.  Yet it is within our natural animal instinct to fear the unfamiliar and lash out when our territory (or beliefs, perceptions, reality) is threatened.  We are often so caught up in a whirl of fear that we are unable to stop and consider that our enemy is just like us, fighting for similar purposes, protecting what they know and what they find as valuable and just.  Given such an ageless predicament, if the cultures of the world were to make a shift toward a more widely accepted value of education and the enlightening benefits of critical thinking and understanding, we could begin to cease the battle between each other and instead focus on sharing our differences, learning from each other and gaining a broader spectrum of knowledge and a more coherent and objective world view, aiding for all cultures to better understand each other and thus having a better understanding of their unique systems and why each world view is beneficial to the overall development of mankind.

            Artists have long spearheaded cultural development and a push toward critical thinking, acceptance of the unfamiliar or odd, and unity of man.  Chinese rapper Wee Meng Chee of Malaysia has received political criticism for his work, many claiming that it instigates and promotes racial tensions between Muslim and Islamic sects residing in a Chinese country.  Wee Meng Chee claims that he is actually quite patriotic and supportive, presenting in his work the intention “to provoke a positive discussion leading to fairness and social harmony” (The Nation).  By presenting specific situations of conflict, such issues are exposed to the public in ways that cause people to think and respond.  Not only does art present stimulation of thought in this way, but it also spurs education of certain topics that plague a given society.  Education through the arts allows information to be passed around to groups that perhaps are otherwise unlikely or incapable of gaining access to such.

            Making our education systems more widely accessible will ideally decrease the gap between social classes, given that more people will have more access to the same information rather than such information being reserved for those that can afford it.  Studies have shown that higher education tends to produce more androgynous behaviours, helping to close the gap between male and female gender roles, merging them into balance. If education can do this for gender, it can do it for differing cultures. Thus, education should be woven into societal values as a necessity for the survival of our species, rather than a mere luxury of class.  Educational institutes should provide curriculum not only of facts and theories but also interweave values of empathy, new thought, unique perspective, and a heavy emphasis on cross-cultural understanding.

            To conquer fear, one must embrace uncertainty and, by facing such, gain understanding both of oneself and that which one fears.  Education can make this a global reality, aiding to the unity of man and harmony between cultures.  By placing education as a primary importance to our future worldwide, the idea of world peace and understanding could very well become a reality.  Imagine if every Christian, every Muslim, every atheist, etc. was equipped with the skills of thought that they could understand the value of differing beliefs and, rather than seek to snuff out conflicting beliefs, seek to integrate such beliefs into their own world view. We could finally view one another as the family we are, one being experiencing itself subjectively, ever evolving toward our true potential of widespread enlightenment.  Knowledge, to sum it plainly, is the key.

© 2014 Ada

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Added on June 29, 2014
Last Updated on June 29, 2014
Tags: essay, cultural, social, tension, education, economy, global



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