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Cultural Identity and Worldviews
How the East and West See the World Differently
I was thinking back to a recent episode of Scenes from the Evolution, where we discussed a situation on Ask the Inspector. Scott Ritter was commenting on the Saudi army. Jeff Norman commented on what the Saudis wear, and people called this comment inappropriate. That led me to think about a further discussion with Dez Reed about the differences in Russian and American cultures and Western reactions to Qatar banning certain activities and dress during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
These discussions made me think about how people form their worldviews and apply them to the rest of the world. I write about worldviews and cultural identity because they are the foundation of information warfare, psychological operations, peace, and understanding.
Our worldview is like a snow globe. What we see inside our snow globe is what we perceive as the truth for the entire world. If the glass of our snow globe is rose-colored, we see the world through rose-colored glasses. We may not realize that there is much more beyond our snow globe. If we take the time to look at someone else’s snow globe, we can see that our view inside is only part of a much bigger world. Viewing other people’s snow globes allows us to see a more accurate representation of the world and communicate with others better. Every time we experience another snow globe, we gain a new lens through which to see the world. These experiences show us that no single snow globe has all the answers.
We’ll discuss this article on Episode 19 of Scenes from the Evolution Sunday at 1 PM EST.
Each one of us forms our perspective of the world indirectly as we grow up. Family, friends, and culture influence our worldview, and we are usually unaware of our viewpoint unless someone presents us with an unfamiliar perspective for comparison. The unconscious origin of our outlook tends to make it inflexible. If our worldview works for us, it is not a problem unless our worldview causes us to react in ways that could undermine humanity’s future. In that case, we must be more conscious of our perspective and seek to understand the worldview of others.
Dr. Carl Sharif El-Tobui says that we must consider all the interconnected elements of a worldview. Because these components are so interrelated, not looking at the entirety of the pieces that make up a worldview is a mistake. Furthermore, not considering all the interconnected elements of a worldview causes people to talk past each other, argue, and get into conflicts.
Western political leadership talks about preserving and spreading the West’s liberal worldview as a universal belief system. However, cultural evolution is not the solution to global challenges, as Easterners and Westerners think differently. Some of the differences are subtle, while others are more obvious. These differences in worldviews are what Western politicians must reconsider, understanding that pursuing Western global values is a fallacy.
A study published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences shows that the historical assumption is that behavioral scientists can use a small group of people from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) societies to define a universal set of beliefs about human psychology and behavior. However, the study found that these WEIRD subjects are the least representative group researchers can use to generalize about humans. Richard E Nisbett also says in “ The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently – and Why ” that studies done with only Westerners “have come up with conclusions about perceptual and cognitive processes that are not by any means general.”
Westerners tolerate most behaviors, including those once considered outrageous and unwelcome. But today, values that the West would have shunned in more traditional and conservative Western times, such as dress, sexual orientation, and social relationships, are based on an ingrained belief in individuality.
One can find aspects of the Western worldview in Asian and Slavic (Eastern) cultures, but these people do not emphasize these behaviors in the public and political spheres. Instead, they embrace collective and conservative beliefs – holding that the good of the many outweighs the interest of the one.
Putting down our snow globe and peering inside others will bring about understanding and world peace.