This saturday we had our very first class for study abroad. Our Uruguay group went to our teacher's house and enjoyed chili and fellowship. It looks like our group is going to be a blast and the girls are terrific as far as I can see. It was nice to be able to meet them in more comfortable situations, and get to know backgrounds and such. By the time we actually went to class we were comfortable and joking around a lot. Man I love smart people with senses of humor.
Class was alright. It was a lot of concept defining. And I laugh now because I got so frustrated with it. We were talking about Relativism, Stereotypes, Ethnocentrism and Pluralism. Americans (me included) crack me up. I preface this with one comment: All semester i have been taking classes that have been reiterating and illustrating different parts of culture, and examples within them that revolve around these four topics. I have had four months to contemplate, and work out a lot of the issues regarding my own ethnocentrism and really understand relativism and how it interacts in a flexible way with Christianity. Anyway..
The discussion was beginning to shape around moral relativism in the world. (Christianity aside). Comments that confused me were as follows:
"Murder is an absolute, you cant tell me that most people around the world who kill someone dont feel bad, or that others around them think it is wrong"
(meanwhile the terms genocide, infanticide, human sacrifice, and so forth)
This comment specifically confused me. She was trying to prove that morals arent relative with a comment that actually proves they are. I dont think murder is right, within my religious context or out, but there are people out there that depending on the context, it is justified. Anyway.. moving on.
Then my teacher was trying to make an example he said:
"What about this... are equal rights for females relative?" Everyone said NO.. every woman deserves equal rights being their reason.
I said yes, and he looked at me perplexed. I didnt really argue back because there wasnt a point to it.. but I think my yes was justified. I think of Islam and Hinduism.. "equal" rights for them is almost wrong. They see independent women of America as dishonored and unprotected and disrespected by men. This is a rather blanket statement I know, but in my eyes there are cultures where "equal" is relative. I think women in those religions may desire a few more rights, but not the same as men. It is their religion and life and culture to be female and have their place in life. It isn't undeserving, or unworthy, just different.
There were more comment made that had the motive of showing an "understanding" of the issues but in reality their own ethnocentrism showed right through. Whats more ethnocentric than an American judging another culture based on the freedoms of an American system. There is no comparison between America and Africa, or India, or Uruguay. In fact I would say in many ways it would be worse for them to take on "American" ideas.
Its like trying to make Iraq a Democracy. Good Luck.. their minds dont work like that.
AND THAT IS OK. God is the ultimate creator, of culture, relationships, and morals. deal.