In today’s society, we are constantly reminded that conflicts based on cultural differences are universal. Conflict seems to be everywhere: from Black Lives Matter, the Confederate statue encounters, the TimesUp movement, even not-so-politically-correct statements from our own leaders. All of these are examples of situations where differences in cultural groups are driving sometimes volatile situations. I find myself asking “why can’t we all just get along?”
To answer that question, we first have to look at culture – the driving force behind human behavior – and how it is created. (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014) Even further, we need to understand the values tied to a particular culture and how those are formed. After all, our values are what “determine our behavior”. (Penn State University, 2018)
Creation of values in a human starts at birth and continues throughout our lives, although most of our values are formed by the age of 21. (Penn State University, 2018) As we move through our lives, forming our values, we transition from relying on caregivers, to modeling the values of others, and then finally to our peers by connecting with other people that share similar values to our own. (Penn State University, 2018) These values that we develop shape our behavior as humans and in turn, the collective behaviors in our culture determine our cultural values. (Penn State University, 2018) This is how cultural groups are formed with like-minded values and behaviors.
Stepping back into where we are today as a society and the question of why we see so many conflicts between cultural groups, we now have a sense of just how embedded these cultural values are in each of us. It is not so easy to for some groups or individuals to ignore the actions of others, because they have a deep personal connection to their own cultural values. Even though the actions of another group or person may not impact their lives directly, these actions can sometimes been seen as damaging to the overall integrity of a culture and the values of that culture.
In recent years, as we have transitioned into a more global economy, we have seen companies shift corporate values into a space of diversity and inclusion. This is to recognize the importance of understanding other cultures that we now share work and information with on a daily basis. In similar fashion, we need to now focus on shifting the human culture into a space of diversity and inclusion. To do this, as we are teaching values to our children, those values must include not only diversity and inclusion of others that may be different, but also tolerance. If we can make this shift as a human culture, we may be able to all just get along.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing Cultural Differences (Ninth ed.). New York: Routledge.
Penn State University. (2018, January 15). Values. Retrieved from OLEAD 410, Lesson 02: Introduction to Culture: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1916378/modules/items/23640509