On cultural differences
A dialogue between Baruch the heron and Simones the green berries. Baruch spends a lot of time still and this allows him to understand that everyone is unique and particular but nevertheless in relation with others and the universe. The Simones assert that femininity is a condition imposed by history and society and question traditional roles.
Baruch: dear Simones, I have questions for you…
Simones: Baruch, what a surprise, how did you manage to land here?
Baruch: I walked, didn’t you hear me?
Simones: no, but you questions must be very important for you to come and see us. What are they?
Baruch: well, you probably know I met someone in Oklahoma but since she is from a different culture than mine, I was wondering if that was a hindrance.
Simones: and knowing our freedom of mind, you thought we would be best able to answer your questions?
Baruch: right. You would be the most open to difference without being too extreme
Simones: so we think you already know our answers otherwise you would have consulted someone else: the difference in culture is not a problem but you can make it one if you dwell on it.
Baruch: that she is from the south doesn’t matter, is it what you mean?
Simones: yes, drop this geographical reference that already modifies your vision or see it as what will make you a multiple and adaptable creature.
Baruch: I see. Difference is more of an asset than an obstacle as long as I don’t close in on my values.
Simones: it’s actually up to you to decide what you want to do with it. Some people refuse to open up because they don’t see the point, but in your case, love is a powerful spur!
Baruch: for me, what matters in a marriage is that it agrees with reason so I will not refuse to consider my partner’s points of view!
Simones: you are right, conversations must be possible, varied and interesting because it is the harmony of minds that preserves the harmony of feelings.
Baruch: and that goes well with what I think, namely that beyond the beautiful form which will not remain identical to itself, the mind does not age and can transform perceptions.
Simones: exactly! Things are resolved and enriched through speech. You will therefore need to learn how to express your emotions and fears by highlighting the common points that bring you together. This new language will be the most difficult to master.
Baruch: yes, I know. Language is steeped in habits that will have to be examined, but by going to tap into the universality that reason makes us know, we should come to an understanding.
Simones: don’t forget that beyond local habits, there is always the common desire to live at best, to prosper, to be happy. The ways can be multiple but they all have their justifications.
Baruch: the goal will be to understand and be understood.
Simones: to have a plural conscience, to know how to pass the edges, to be imbued with new ideas and thus to enrich oneself.
Baruch: isn’t that running the risk of getting lost, that’s also what I was wondering.
Simones: it’s going to change your identity since you will open yourself up to other ideas but you are also going to gain a new one since you lose nothing but acquire knowledge. If you do it in pairs with a common goal, you will meet where the universal begins.
Baruch: sorting out many things will not always be easy. I guess, because cultural sediments lie well at the bottom of the soul.
Simones: you know, this transformation would have been of the same order with a heron from the north as we all come with our unique culture. It would have perhaps been easier but nevertheless necessary.
Baruch: there are therefore no differences other than those that we want to highlight because in reality, they do not call into question the essential. That’s what I was thinking but I am happy to have your confirmation. I wondered if I was the only one to think that way.
Simones: from what I see, there are already two of you, right?
Baruch: that I don’t know for sure yet.
Simones: because she stayed there, it is what you mean?
Baruch: yes, we had plans together but I wanted to get back to the domain so she told me to leave.
Simones: was she angry?
Baruch: no, not at all, she encouraged me to follow my whims.
Simones: so she loves you for who you are, not for what you bring to her, that’s a good sign. There are constants in all beings and here is one relating to love, whether it is from the north or the south.
Baruch: I write her very often to keep in touch.
Simones: don’t stop, she needs it and in that respect, you are like all the herons in love. I should even say all the creatures in love. When they have the will to communicate, they also have the will to understand each other.
Baruch: thank you, dear Simones, you make me feel better. I will now go back to the edge of the pond because I don’t like being in the middle of all these trees.
Simones: we understand your fears about this, dear Baruch. For us, they are our protection but we don’t have the same needs.
Are cultural differences an obstacle to understanding?
For the Simones, they are only so if we want to make them an obstacle because beyond these differences, there is the universality of desires and needs. Discourse and the willingness to adapt make it possible to create harmony even if it takes effort.
For Baruch, understanding is based on reason which enables us to explain and understand. When there is agreement of souls, discussion is easy even if the encounter with differences changes individuals.
Is truth compatible with cultures?
If agreement is possible, why is it not always desired?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Cultural schizophrenia where Shayegan compares East and West and defines what he calls “nomadic consciousness”.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Baruch and Emilies? Their favorite books are in the domain library.