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Tolerance for cultural differences keystone of civilization

A lot of the times, when I get off on a tangent in my writing, the topic comes from discussions around a coffee table, with friends or from observations I make when I overhear some conversation in passing.

A lot of the times, when I get off on a tangent in my writing, the topic comes from discussions around a coffee table, with friends or from observations I make when I overhear some conversation in passing. Thus, often, I should be giving credit to others who have triggered me to spend some time researching or studying a topic. Sometimes I should give credit to one of my step children, who in the process of a discussion have caused me to expound to them about my moral and philosophical beliefs. There are times when these discussions are of a political nature or about beliefs I hold dear due to the way I was nurtured by family in my developmental years. But, over the years, my beliefs and understandings of responsibility to society have grown and expanded as I have the opportunity to share and discuss these topics with people who come and go in my life.

One topic that has often been in the forefront of my growth has been the understanding of other cultures and the beliefs those cultures hold dear. In each different cultural group there are beliefs that are held to be absolute truths based on long held traditions that in some cases have grown from their origins to become mythical in how societies and religions understand them.

I will cite an example from my own Catholic traditions. When I was young it was considered a sin to eat meat on Fridays and in my religious training I was taught that the reason for this was based on deep religious principals that were doctrines of the church. There was no one more grateful than I when the church decided this practice was no longer essential for us to live a religious life. I am the first to admit I have never been the greatest lover of fish flesh. I don't mind it now and then, but every Friday was truly penance for me. Then came a time of enlightenment for me when I took a class during summer school at a Catholic college where I spent a number of years studying. In one class on church history it was revealed the basis for this supposed religious doctrine was not religious piety, it was based on social justice principles.

At the time when the doctrine evolved, the fishermen along the coastlines were often living frugal lives because of the inability to sell enough of their wares to make a good living. The pope of the day and his advisers decided to come to their assistance and order all of the faithful to support these poor fishermen by eating fish every Friday. Now how did this come from a simple social issue into something many believed had a much deeper meaning? Well, one might say for many who enjoyed fish as much as I do, it definitely was penance to have to follow this rule but in essence it was more likely lack of education and ignorance.

If we study many beliefs around the world we will find that their true source is often overshadowed by misunderstandings and stubbornness. Some strong beliefs have been fostered by the fact someone could not believe there was any other way to do something other than the way they have always done something.

An example of this was in the news in Quebec a couple of years ago where a teacher made a big issue about a student whose family had emigrated recently. This youngster was using a spoon to eat all of his food. In the teacher's mind this was not socially acceptable and she was embarrassed for the student and tried to force him to change his ways. This child had been taught to eat the way they were because that is how the culture from which their family came had always eaten. Just because the teacher was raised in another culture she looked down on this student for his ways and considered him to be heathen. My question is: Who made her and her culture the judge of which ways are right and which ways are wrong?

But, this is something many of us often do. We are sometimes unable to accept that a different way is not wrong, it is just different. Different doesn't mean something is wrong. It often just means someone has a different view of things and that does not necessarily make it wrong. For example, who made Emily Post God (remember she wrote the famous book on etiquette) and gave her the right to declare that if you did not do things her way you were less than others. If two people put their pants on differently is one of them wrong. Look at the issue of some people who were left handed and how rude and cruel some educators were to them in forcing them to change.

We often like to use the word civilized to describe our ways, but it is funny how, over the years, different cultures have each looked at the other as being uncivilized just because their ways were different. How civilized were we when we were putting that other group down just for some of the ways they did things. Is it possible that if we, as civilized people, were open to understanding others we might realize that adopting some of those differences could be a benefit to us all. If we were willing to do so we might truly become civilized.

Jan. 21, a shuffleboard tournament was held at the Do Drop In. There was a good turnout with Eric Callbeck and Anna Tucker taking first place, Ken Tucker and Josephine Nedelec coming in second, and a tie for third and fourth between the teams of Frank Antoine and Jean Gansauge and John Stewart and Cora Christianson.

Quote: "There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages." Who else, but Mark Twain?