On the run from our collective past? Who are we? There are liabilities to having a culture or, should we say, being a culture. It makes us vulnerable to stereotypes both negative and positive. And as we know naming has meant dominion from Adam on. Culture can be both a liability and resource.
How much of our past do we try to deliver ourselves from?
- Mothers say, "Don't be like your father!"
- "I gotta' be me!"
- TCK's insist they have no culture but are "global citizens", cosmopolitan.
- What prevailing conversations do you hear that discourage you from tapping into your cultural inheritance?
- Is culture actually fighting culture within you?
- What hard-to-swallow cultural bits of yourself have become tasty when you have chewed on them a bit?
We need to share each other's stories and the values that live beneath them to take advantage of our similarities and differences. In those stories, if we dare look at them, dare share them, may be about hidden pain, moments we paid, perhaps paid dearly for who we are. When something untoward has happened in a culture in which we were sourced, do we defend it, abandon it, seek revenge, or work to repair it to maintain our integrity? Cultural catharsis means coming clean, transforming the story, not denying it. Authenticity comes from within, from befriending our story, not alienating it.
In much of our intercultural work, we are learning and sharing about how to be with others different from ourselves, trying to avoid the extremes of ethnocentrism and going native (to say nothing about the now popular accusations of cultural appropriation –fortunately, my bald pate is beyond the temptation to sport natural dreads). Hating parts of myself that bring discomfort, does not bring comfort. Learning to be with different others enlarges me, it does not erase me. Owning my story is owning myself, loving myself, a solid basis for continuing to create satisfying future adventures. Likewise, I love being your guest even as you and I both decorate and pay off the mortgage on our cultural homes!