When the issue of diversity is raised, most think of race and ethnicity. Although these topics are very important, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The lens through which we see the world is significantly influenced by the whole of our life experiences. Factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, religion, occupation, language, where we live, cultural background and a host of other factors are all critical components of the concept of diversity.
We all have stereotypical images of countries and their populations. We develop these images from our education in schools and universities, from our travels, from our news and sports media, from our literature, increasingly from the internet, and from visual media including film and television. How accurate are these images? How do they change over time? How are they “colored” by our own conditioning and culture?
It was my birthday recently and I was presented with the following question – “Do you celebrate your birthday with a cake in your culture & country? Would love to know if this a recent cultural phenomenon or long established? Is this a personal sign of globilisation?”
This is not an article about the world situation. That the situation in the world is bad, one only has to read in the newspapers, or to look at television, or to scrounge through the Internet. Some things are tragically wrong in our societies; communication techniques have failed among the different cultures, and understanding or agreement among the countries is practically zilch. So, this article writer does not intend to rain down hell, fire, and brimstone about what every country is doing wrong. Judgment will come but not from me.
Past predicts Future: For over 20 years of my life in the US, always answering “Ukraine” when asked where I came from, I’d heard, “Aah, Russia!” The home to 45.4 million people, Ukraine was little known—until bloodshed on the Maidan Square in Kyiv and continuing mayhem provoked by expert Putin-esque instigators brought it into headlines. The media opinions, however, often understate the situation, thus hurting all-American understanding—and standing—in this strategically important European country.
This headline makes for eye-catching copy, does it not? Now, if I said that these are the actual words that accompany the email signature of a person in the U.S. who communicates, often globally, to members of his organization, would you believe me? Well, that’s the truth. I kid you not.