Cultural Harmony: The long road ahead
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
I was once told that we watch the world through a coloured lens, as if we had yellow sunnies on all the time, or blue (the options are infinite, really), squeezed up on top of our noses and stopping us from seeing clearly and accurately. These lenses are our ideology, which, in turn, is shaped by our surroundings, education, culture and therefore, language.
Culture and language are intertwined. An inseparable duo. Just like Apple without the launch of the first iPhone or Mark Zuckerberg’s bank account without ads, language would not exist without culture. It is a cultural tool, used to communicate with those who share the same particular experiences and understanding of the world as well as with the one’s who do not, in order to build bridges and connect.
As social beings, creators and inheritants of languages, existing without communicating is not an option. The thing is…there are around 7000 different languages in the world, each of them having several variations, accents or expressions, a result from cultural differences throughout countries and regions.
Speaking the same language does not always mean communication barriers will be eliminated. A good example of this, and one very close to me as a Portuguese citizen, is the difference between the Portuguese language and its variations across countries and respective cultures. A study made by ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, focused on the reports of Portuguese nationals working in Brazil and Brazilian nationals working in Portugal and the results are quite overwhelming. There is a general agreement among the sampled individuals that Brazilians are nicer, very positive, informal and short-term oriented, enjoying the present, while Portuguese are serious, quite pessimistic, very formal and long-term oriented, focused on the future and not living in the moment. This example shows that, even though, the individuals shared the language, the culture differs, leading to common misconceptions and cultural mix-ups.
I personally believe that only positive things can come from the gathering of different cultures, living together peacefully. It is possible to benefit from the wisdom that comes from each culture. Taking in other people’s experiences can broaden our minds and make us see the world from an unbiased perspective. Being able to understand, in a closest perspective, how a culture works can cause us to be more sensitive towards that culture and even others. Some studies even prove that diversity can make us smarter and more creative. And who would not want that?