Connecting our Collection of Cultures
Cross-cultural communication is an extremely important aspect of today’s world. Since the advent of Internet and globalization, interaction between people of widely varying cultural backgrounds has increased at a rapid and growing pace. As the upsurge of cyber-activity continues with accelerated expansion, issues related to communication are likely to intensify.
While it is important to recognize the common ground between all people, it is equally essential we develop tolerance and respect for the diverse and deeply rooted traditions and perspectives of all cultures.
Bridging the Gap
As a US citizen primarily living abroad in India, I have become increasingly aware of the differences between East and West, and recognize the urgent need for crossing the paradigm gap. I think this can be best accomplished without trying to ‘narrow’ the gap by forcing cultures to blend but rather by building a bridge of connection and mutual appreciation over it. In this metaphor, I consider the ‘river’ to be the common ideals of humanity and conflicting views to be like contrasting shores, each connected to the same water.
Recently, my Guru, Amma spoke at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ (UNAOC) Regional Consultations for Asia-South Pacific, held in Shanghai. More than one-hundred-and-fifty delegates from various governments, academia, corporations, NGOs and cultural organizations attended the two-day event entitled: Harmony Through Diversity and Dialogue
During the past three decades, Amma has toured the world, visiting numerous continents to communicate with people of all languages, races, colors, castes and religions, from the very poorest to the rich and famous, through the language of Love. This was Amma’s first time visiting China.
The subject of Amma’s speech was: “Coexistence and Engagement Between Cultures.” She emphasized how culture and modernization need to be in balance for congenial coexistence to happen.
Respecting and tolerating diversity is essential.
Amma said: “We have to acknowledge the fact that even though we are one in essence, externally, we are different … An awareness of the need for coexistence amidst diversity is the only way to alleviate the suffering of others … When we engage others with respect, understanding and acceptance, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart.”
Love is the Soil Shared by all Flowers
The factor of love originates from a foundation of unity. Thus, recognizing our unifying factors can serve as a tool for cultivating respect for diversity as well. I believe humanity as a whole shares some basic universal values that run deeper than the sometimes-polarized worldviews of divergent or conflicting nations, parties, cultures and people.
Consider how this age-old adage serves that idea well: “A smile is the same in any language”.
Similarly, the language of love stems from the heart, and with it arises an attitude of acceptance that the intellect cannot cut or divide. Such an attitude allows our beautiful bouquet of cultures to array the world-garden with uniqueness and unity combined.
“There are no barriers for love. I have full faith in the transformational power of Love to unite all hearts.”