Friday, April 25, 2014
One of the things that I must consider before traveling to another country is ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the general concept of a group holding their culture above all else, or when a person looks at another culture through the eyes of their own (paraphrased from dictionary.com). One of the reason this must be considered is since people in the U.K. may not hold the U.S. in as high of esteem as I do. They may think the U.K. is better then I do. This is normal really, and I must realize that, and hold my statements and reaction accordingly.
One example of ethnocentrism is how almost every country holds their Olympic teams or their FIFA, FIBA, WBC, and other leagues teams are superior to all of the other teams. An example for the other definition would be more along the lines would be how we cannot believe any country today or ever could work with a monarchy or a dictator, since the United States is a democracy. In fact that last line was ethnocentric, since at first I said we, and then later one showed I was speaking directly to U.S. citizens, even though I am posting this online, and I have seen in the numbers that someone has viewed this blog from Germany. With that, I know this blog has a potential for nearly worldwide audience (excluding North Korea) and that it had a reader from outside the U.S. (even if by accident), but I still directed this towards Americans. With that being said, I think a discussion on ethnocentrism is valid for everyone. So why do we have it? There is an educational background, just about every country has public, a state funded, education system that tells history from their perspective. We have an information perspective, we have news and we pay attention to what our government over what other governments say. Granted many countries have opposition groups, but who are we more likely to listen to, the U.S. government or the Syrian government? Who do we listen to more, Obama, or Putin? Heck, the Conservatives know more about the Obama side of the story over Crimea and Ukraine, and then they know the Putin side. It doesn't matter which side they agree with, but we are still getting information more from one then the other, that is ethnocentrism. It is bad since just what I just said, we are getting the information from one source. During the Massacre at Wounded Knee, all of the Americans were getting the story of the U.S., not so much from the Lakota (the Sioux, which was the tribe at Wounded Knee).
Ethnocentrism can be good since it works to promote a sense of patriotism. It provides a connection to your neighbor. It gives you a connection to that homeless person on the street corner. When Americans talk about the homeless or the general poor here, they say this isn’t how Americans should live, that is ethnocentrism at work. This is what drives home done charities. Chadron State College is doing two major charity/service events. One of which is the Big Event, it is a community service event. It started last year with over 400 students in it. It is going to happen today (April 26th). The preliminary numbers for this year’s event is over 700 volunteers pre-signed up. There are also 70 work locations, 20 of them are in Crawford, NE (next town west when only traveling on highway 20 and it is 24 miles away), and the rest are just outside or in Chadron. To me this since it is making things look good locally, it is regional or micro-ethnocentrism. This is considering ethnocentrism is on a national scale this is more local. The Charity event is the going to be the third annual Nearly Naked Mile. Yes it culminates in students running a mile in costumes or outfits with the main requirement of not breaking public decency laws but there is a community aspect to it too. We donate clothes to various local organizations; the main beneficiary is the Catholic Ladies Rummage Sale. They in turn will sell some of the clothes at their sales and donate the money to their charities, help some local families in need get cheap for free clothing as well direct excess clothing to other locations/charities, one of note includes to families of need on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Last year over 9,000 articles of clothing was donated. Talking to some people this year sounds like we may break that (update we had over 20,000 articles of clothes donated). Again this is localized ethnocentrism, saying people here need help, and we are going to give to them, either by clothes or by money raised by the clothes. They say charity starts at home. Also that no one person can save the world, that for the most part is true. To me the way we are doing this is local ethnocentrism, that no one in our backyard or in the area should suffer that much from poverty. The thing is this is good ethnocentrism in place. If this was done everywhere, that would take care of a lot of problems.
In the end, ethnocentrism is good, as in helping your neighbor since no one in your area should suffer. It is bas in the sense of it spreads ignorance of people elsewhere. Though, just like everything else there is a good kind, a bad kind, and it can be very good if used in moderation.