Could we be a wonderful, mixed-up salad?

The Rev. Sung Ho Lee of Trinity United
Methodist Church gave a presentation on Justice among people of different
cultures. 
What does
justice among people of different cultures look like? Sung Ho Lee started with a
definition of culture. He defined culture as a way a group of people think,
feel, celebrate, and experience life. Ways people express culture include
ceremonies, works of art, and tradition. He said that each culture has an
underlying system of values that is unique to that particular culture. All cultures
have value. No culture is superior or inferior to another.
Sung Ho Lee said
that, when you visit another culture for a short time, you will not see the intangible
things that make a culture complete, which include beliefs, values, thought
patterns, and myths. He said that an iceberg can be used as a metaphor for
culture. What you experience in a short visit to another country are the things
that are on the top of the iceberg, above the water line, so to speak. You can
perceive the things that you can see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and
touch with your hands. “It is not easy to grasp the culture of other people,”
he said.
Sung Ho Lee, who
was born and lived for 30 years in South Korea before moving to the United
States, where he has lived and worked for 35 years, has observed differences in
these two cultures. Korea is a “high context culture,” which means that it is
group oriented, while the United States is a “low context culture,” which means
that it is more individualistic. He talked about cultural clashes that he
experienced when he first came to the United States.
“I had
trouble raising my voice when I had a question. American had no difficulty with
that. They raised their hands, and they sometimes asked stupid questions. I
adapted. I raise my hand now and some of my questions are stupid questions.”
Another
difference? “In Korea, we don’t have an agenda for a meeting. In the United
States, people don’t think that we can have a meeting without an agenda.
Neither is wrong nor right. They are just different.”
Different is
good. Well, apparently, that hasn’t been a value in the United States. Different
was seen as something to be eliminated, which is where the issue of justice
among cultures comes in. The concept of the melting pot came in the 1780s. All
cultures “melt together.” It’s supposed to make them all live together better
because they share an American culture. The downside, however, is that people
lose their ancestral cultures. They lose their heritage and their identities.
“They lose who they are.”
There is no justice in the melting pot.
Another way of looking at a country in which
people have diverse backgrounds is the concept of a salad bowl. A salad bowl is
full of a variety of good things, such as lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots,
cherry tomatoes, feta cheese. On top of all that, you add a dressing, which is
the finishing touch. The dressing gives everything a special tang. Or, as Sue Kaiser
pointed out, after the luncheon, “The dressing is the blessing.”
All of these salad foods, Sung Ho Lee said, are “good
stuff. They are different nutrients and colors, all coming together.”
How do we create justice among peoples of
different cultures? How do we get away from ethnocentrism and the attitude that
different is bad and that other cultures are not important?
Sung Ho Lee said that Jesus met all kinds of people
and he accepted the people who were rejected by society, such as lepers and tax
collectors. He said that the parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how
Jesus accepted peoples of all cultures..
“We can practice justice among different people.
That is what Jesus did,” said Sung Ho Lee.
The next Lenten luncheon will be sponsored by Saint
Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church and the topic, to be presented by Father
Earle King, will be justice and the opiod epidemic.

2 thoughts on “Could we be a wonderful, mixed-up salad?”

  1. Cerebrations.biz

    I go for the salad metaphor. You won't be able to find that specific chunk of olive you want, but you get to test a great mixture of the components.

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