Last night Israel won the 2018 Eurovision contest. It’s a great platform to reflect on how we look at everything that is different, that which does not meet our perception.
Netta Barzilai does not meet the 90/60/90 figure measurements nor does she have a conventionally beautiful face. But she has a message for us: “I am different, and I am perfectly ok with being different.”
When we take her perception and attribute it to culture, we should be mindful of the fact that there is a lot of diversity in today’s world. We often look at the world through our cultural lenses, but they are meant to correct our vision and not that of the other.
What is culture? Culture is a set of unwritten norms that guide people’s behavior, gives them a sense of what is right and what is wrong, what is appropriate what is not. That said, in my eyes, culture has a much broader definition. To me, culture is all about standing in someone else’s shoes and understanding the values of the person’s culture. If we learn to do so, we can understand people better, we can accept them for who they are and for what they stand for and understand where they are coming from.
When working with organizations in teaching them to acquire a global mindset, we go a step back and begin to first understand our own culture. We need to be aware when our cultural behavior works for us, in terms of opening things for us, when it closes things don, when it gives or misses us opportunities.
Changing culture is a very difficult task to accomplish. It requires changing the values and perceptions that we learned as children, but if we learn to recognize our own biases, how our values affect the way we judge other people, and if we learn to judge others according to their own values instead of ours, we will have learned to understand people better, to accept them for who they are and for what they stand for.
As a “culturally aware individual” we can begin to contribute in creating a more tolerant world, where being different is neither good or bad, it is just different.