by Megan Reece
The news is full of stories about colliding cultures. Whether it is a battle between police officers and Black Lives Matter, or Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, these intercultural conflicts are hard to ignore.
With all these conversations about race relations in America, our communication with one another is at risk. The news makes us increasingly aware of how people of other races and backgrounds look at the world. Often, this awareness is exactly what we need. Awareness of the challenges of others produces empathy for one another and builds lasting relationships that work together for positive change.
“We all have something to learn, and communication is the only way to do that.” – Megan Reece
Unfortunately, the cultural conversation lately has not been characterized by empathy. It feels more like a cultural war than a cultural conversation. The majority of us are not bigots. Most of the offensive words or behavior we use is accidental because we do not understand the experiences of cultures different from our own. In the news we hear all about how our mistakes are harming those around us. We never set out to combat against another culture, but we find ourselves living some of the storylines of conflict that we see in the media.
This is when fear and worry begin to affect us. We worry that we may have undertones of discrimination in our words and behaviors. These fears and insecurities make us retreat from relationships with those who are different from us, because it’s easier than engaging and makes us less apt to be labeled intolerant. We are told in the media every day that we can never really understand the experience of those who come from a different cultural background anyway.
But are we really as different as they tell us we are? Intercultural relationships can only grow when people of all racial and cultural backgrounds are invited to give up the fear and be honest with one another. Instead of worrying, we should be able to be humble. Mistakes will happen. Undoubtedly, someone will get offended. However, if we are slow to anger and fast to forgive, we can all learn to communicate better. We are in an environment that strives for honest community built on humility, honesty and forgiveness. We can use this time to learn more about other cultures in a place where we are free to make mistakes because we are all learning together.
This generation should not be one that looks to push against each other for power. Instead we should strive for collaboration. We all have something to learn, and communication is the only way to do that.