KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Thoughtless Assumptions

You just celebrated the most wonderful Christmas by going to a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve church service and then spending time with your family Christmas Day. You relished the delicious roast beef at dinner, served with baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and a Merlot. . . .

What? That wasn't how the last few days went for you? You were instead worshipping at a temple or a mosque? Or maybe you don't believe that there is a supreme being.

The world cannot afford ethnocentricity. The world cannot afford for human beings to either assume that everyone else comes from the same cultural background that they do nor interpret others' cultures within the framework of their own. Each person has different cultural and ethnic traditions, different family traditions, different local and national traditions. What seems fun or tasty or moral to one person may be anathema to another. In assuming, you may be intending to share what you enjoy or love with others, but those others may feel that you are forcing your worldview on them.

Look at George W. Bush: He assumes that everyone everywhere wants to be a Christian or live in a democracy. But the nation on which he's trying to foist his brand of Christianity and democracy has, for centuries, had cultural and governmental traditions of a very different kind. Iraqis don't want to be Americans; they want to keep their own traditions. Americans don't know better than everyone else. We're not morally superior to anyone else. But we're in a war in Iraq because of Bush's ethnocentrism.

Look at the rising incidence of heart disease and obesity worldwide: In every nation where American companies have sold inhabitants on eating like Americans, the number of people who are obese or have heart disease has increased exponentially. American business has assumed that everyone everywhere wants fast food. And maybe many people do, but they'll pay for it eventually with their health. The world's getting more and more unhealthy because of Americans' dietary ethnocentrism.

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