Trials are not enemies of faith but are opportunities to prove
God's faithfulness. -- Author Unknown

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one
to say 'thank you?' -- William A. Ward

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cultural Respect and Open-Mindedness

Time for some substance around here.
I want to talk about cultural awareness and respect.
My family lives in a diverse area. Our family is a minority. We are 2/5 Asian Indian. We aren't closing the door to other adoptions that would add other cultures to our family. My husband is southern and I'm northern. My cooking tends to have alot of northern influence. I can't tell you how many people I've introduced to pierogies and roast pork and sauerkraut. We tend to do very diverse things around here.
We live with the stares of people trying to figure out how Ananya and Prasun are our kids. We live with people asking how much they cost or if they are brother and sister.
First, its rude to ask how much a child cost. It is really even rude to ask how much the adoption cost. I don't ask you how much your car payment is.
Secondly, yes. My kids are brothers and sisters. Biology isn't the only determinate of that. It really isn't anyone's business if they have the same birth mother.
But I digress.
I believe that it is healthy to have friends from a variety of backgrounds. I don't want the world around us to be white (or black or brown for that matter). I want all my kids to understand the World. Not the world in front of us but the World around us. I want my kids to know why Muslim women cover their heads, that some Indians are vegan for religious reasons, and Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent. I could go on with the list but I will spare you. I don't see anything wrong with my children experiencing things from other cultures, and I'm not talking just food.
I work in a hospital with a large number of Indian doctors. One time I had one of their mothers as a patient. Devout Muslims. Do you know that it made me uncomfortable being in the room without a head covering. All of the other women were covered. No one expected me to do this. I just felt like the room was this woman's personal space. I should be respectful when I am in her space.
I feel like when interacting with others who have cultural beliefs differing from yours that there should be respect on the part of both parties. I expect others to be respectful of me as a person and I will give them the same respect. I won't disregard what I know about their culture. I won't belittle their beliefs. I will try to integrate myself somewhat into their lives, especially if they are friends.
I applaud so many adoptive families out there who make an extra effort to integrate their culture into their families lives. You can take a festival of one religion and make some changes to make it fit your family. Pat and Julie have a great example here. You can agree with the basic meaning of a holiday and chose to make it your own. It is called creating traditions.
It is my thought that people who enter your home, especially those you call your friends should respect that. I would think that they would want to be involved. At least to broaden the horizons of their own children.
Well I'm coming from my own little place with this. I want to learn about other cultures because I find it interesting. I'm interested in learning about the World (emphasis on the big W) and not just the world that is in front of me. I want to interact with the World through mission trips and such. The only way to do that is by learning about their lives. You can only share your truth with others if you can understand where they are coming from. It will at least give the impression that you care enough to have done your research. It gives backbone and substance to what you say.
My point in this whole rant is to simply say: Please be respectful of the cultures around you. It doesn't have to be an ethnic joke to insult someone. Simple comments made without thinking can hurt someone.
Kindergarten teaches "Treat others as you would like to be treated." A school lesson to be remembered.


CindyO. said...

Amen!! Love this post. I feel the exact same way. I absolutely hate the question "are they brother and sister?" Of course they are....I don't care if they are biologically related--why should anyone else??

I am in agreement--we should respect everyone's culture and try to teach our children being different is ok--better than ok--wonderful!!

Peter and Nancy said...

We have had so many people ask us how much our adoption cost -- most of them were well-intentioned, and they usually comment about how they wished it could be less expensive so more people could do it. I don't mind when people ask an honest question like that . . .

This week a store clerk come right out and asked where we adopted Anya Rashi from (most people are too polite to ask) . . . and then she told me she was adopted too. That's the first time anyone's ever said that -- I wonder how my girl will feel about those questions when she's old enough to understand them?
-- Nancy

angie said...

Right on! Well said! I totally agree. Because of international adoption, my eyes have been opened to the world around me. That's just one of the MANY blessings that came with our adoption.