Has living overseas affected your views on race or culture?

Has living overseas affected your views on race or culture?

  • Yes, I appreciate other races / cultures more
  • Yes, I now identify more with my own race / culture
  • Yes, I now dislike certain other races / cultures
  • Yes, I have more of a desire to protect my own race / culture
  • Yes, I now wish to see all races / cultures blend into one
  • No, I have always been a racial / cultural liberal
  • No, I have always been a racial / cultural conservative
  • I am of mixed race / culture so this is difficult to answer
  • Feelings mixed and confused
  • I married one of “them”
  • More than one of these / other (please explain)

0 voters

It occurs to be that the experience of living in a different culture makes some people appreciative of human diversity, while others may come to identify more with their own race or culture than before. Possibly both could be true at once. Alternately, for those who grew up in already multicultural environments (or who chose overseas countries with races or cultures similar to their own), living overseas may not have been much of a change.

So, which you you?

In my case, I was once an apologist for human diversity, and a member of a small religious group which celebrated the unity of humanity across all borders of race and culture. Later, however, I came to understand that we cannot all live together and be happy, even in principle–because the races really are different, and culture is a consequence of that.

I hasten to add that these differences are not necessarily good or bad, any more than we can say that beagles are better or worse than dachshunds. But we can’t just wish them away, even if we wanted to–which I don’t, of course. I have come to identify with my own race and culture more, though I will probably miss many aspects of life here when I leave one day.

P.S. How do I set it up to allow more than one choice? Other people seem to have done this…?

Really? Where? I would also like to have that function, but it appears that the software has some limitations.

Vincent, in your poll, you seem to equate race and culture. The thing is, my culture/ethnicity is much more important than my race. I do not believe that my cultural and ethnic history have a parallel expression in my race. I’m just white. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about that. On the other hand, the values, traditions, languages, skills and foods, that are passed down from generation to generation in my family are rich and varied.

I do not believe that all cultures are equal in every respect, which is not very pc, but I still believe it to be true. A lot of people suffer from the “I’m OK, You’re OK” notion of equally valid cultures. I don’t buy it. The fact is, western martial art traditions are very limited, and the Orient does not have a musical tradition that can compare with Europe in terms of complexity, technique, or longevity. Hehehehe. That will get some of the posters among us suitably riled up, I’m sure. :laughing: :sunglasses:

I agree with Vincent on being apologist to diversity and at the same time being protective of my own culture.

I suggest you take off the word “race” from the options.


I used to have a girlfriend who was black but had been adopted at birth by a white family and brought up in an area where she was the only black person. As far as she was concerned her ‘identity’ came from her upbringing, and had nothing to do with her colour. That she happened to be black was immaterial to her, and she didn’t have any sense that she should seek out ‘her own people’. Her family and friends were her own people, and this whole idea that race and culture are inextricable caused her a lot of distress in later life.

Race is not related to culture in my book, and discussing them in the same poll is not a good idea.

It would be interesting to get input from some ABCs on this??

As for the answer to the question, I had to pick the last option.

I now find a sizeable percentage of my (British) countrypersons to be parochial, arrogant, narrow minded and condescending to other cultures. Many of them mellow out once they see a bit of the world, but I have a hard time with the idea that I might one day go back and live in the middle of it. Living/travelling overseas has made me take a hard look at my own country and occasionally feel quite ashamed.

On the other hand, try as I might to accept that people here are just ‘different’, I can’t help making value judgements. There is much here that really pisses me off, because it’s so bloody stupid. And I have to use strong language because I feel really strongly about it. The Chinese way is not my way, and I’ve already (not even one year) made up my mind that I’m not going to adopt local values and try to assimilate myself into the society. So travelling/living overseas has also taught me to value many aspects of my culture much more.

I am a westerner, albeit not a typical one, and I’m comfortable enough with who I am that I’m going to continue being who I am. And I’ll defend my values with equal vigour against any Brit, any Chinese, and anybody else who presumes to tell me that I have to do/be X because I’m in or from their country. I try to accept that other people are going to live their lives, and organise their affairs, their own way. But I reserve the right to do the same thing.

This is true in my case. Living overseas has led to a number of cultural epihanies. This, despite the fact that, from the time I was in grade school, my circle of friends included Native-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Mexican-Americans. Leaving America allowed me a respite from the aspects of U.S. culture I find annoying at best and disgusting at worst. Still, living overseas has led to a bit of a rennaisance in the way I value my homeland. I like it much more now than I did when I left.

I disagree. I think it is possible to live harmoniously among people of different cultures, at least in principle. I think that cultural conflict stems from preceived threat and the resulting fear. I think people can rise above being motivated by fear.

My friends here in Taiwan, who get together on a regular basis, include Taiwanese people, a Swede, Germans, a Nigerian, a Canadian, and me, an American. Put these people together on an island, and we’d get along fine. As long as I was king, of course. :slight_smile:

My view that all human beings are inherently equal has been tested while living outside my home country but I think it’s stronger now.

I believe what makes human beings essentially what we are is our non-physical part – our soul – and the body is just a prism that this spirit shows through so it looks different and seems different but if you really look deeply inside you see it’s the exact same light. This ‘soul’ seems to spring from one source so we all have the same nature and inherent qualities but not all bodies and environments are the same since they’re just accidents of a varied and changing material world.

This “prism” effect works both ways, so if I, as who I am now, had started out in this world looking out through the nutrition, education, pressures and parental and peer teachings that a Bangladeshi dirt farmer does I would sorely be tested to see myself as the same person I am as I type this if I were to see “myself” doing some of the things Bangladeshi dirt farmers typically do. Something deep inside me tells me that there’s no reason for it to be any other way though, especially when I see the occasional person who arises from that background and goes on to surpass anything I think I’ve got in the way of virtue and abilities.

This spirit-as-who-we-are point of view frees me from having to adopt the tortured logic that all races and cultures are absolutely equal in all regards in order to avoid being an enemy of human equality – since I believe race and culture are just prisms or accidents of place and time that don’t have to be the same in order for us to be the same.

So, I can be perfectly comfortable saying I don’t think there’s much chance a white man is going to take the 100 meter dash gold medal in the next Olympics or that Chinese culture has a higher incidence of random cruelty than Western culture – that soul and body are different and soul determines our inherent natures and capabilities and the body and its collective cultural memory just focus them differently. It’s taboo in the West to even discuss the existence of any sort of perceived differences between races and cultures though so the values of a Western person get sorely tested when they try to live outside their native environment for any length of time and understand all the differences that pile up on them.

This prevailing ‘no-difference’ viewpoint in Western culture survives best if held in the sealed environment of a Western lifestyle. Once it’s taken outside and used for practical living it often happens that its proponents become embittered about people of other races and cultures whom they encounter doing such things as systematically abusing women, callously abandoning their dying old or exhibiting a remorseless lack of pity for stray animals wandering the streets of their cities. They end up being the cynical, privately neo-racist expatriates of long residency we’ve all encountered once they realize how their former world view has failed them so completely.

So for all the crude, cruel behaviour I’ve seen out here I’ve also seen goodness and virtue equal to any I ever knew in the West. I have had to look hard for it a few times. I attribute that to the “prism” effect though and not any inherent differences in who we are and I’m comfortable that that’s essentially true. Whenever I start to wander from that conviction I need only look to the example of Gandhi or Mother Teresa who had the ability – the gift – to look the president of the United States in the eye or a diseased beggar on the streets of Calcutta in the eye and, with utter and sincere conviction, believe they were looking into the eyes of people of equal value.

Certainly living in another country has altered my thinking, whether good or bad. I think people need to travel more, to understand more of the world. Though by doing this you change yourself which some people are not willing to do, the more you know the worse off you are some say.

My biggest concern is how I will be viewed by my friends, future colleagues, etc. when I finally make the journey back home. My views will be completely different from theres and their ability to accept or not accept them could be interesting.

From living here I have gained the ability to accept certain realities that I would never have come to accept. It’s been a wild ride with more to come!

I’ve always been liberal regarding matters of race, except when it comes to the English, of course. :wink:

“Race / culture” is my attempt to express the stuff that we notice that makes the world’s peoples different. Our sense of personal identity may emphasize race, (smaller-scale) ethnicity, language, or religion depending on what people around us are doing. (There are no “blacks” in the Congo.) I didn’t want to prejudge which aspect you thought was primary. No, I don’t think they’re identical, but I do think they’re related in the same way that a birdsong is related to that bird’s species.

“Equality” is a different question altogether, and basically begs the question of how you’re judging. Are beagles equal to dachshunds? Who decides? A biologist would say that they both have found an evolutionary niche which seems to work for them, given that they’re here. (Perhaps this is temporary–when humanity goes, no more table scraps, so no more dachshunds.) A religious person might decide that beagles have the inner light but dachshunds are evil, or whatever it is the religion taught. (Religion can get away with being arbitrary.) A lot of modernist talk about race is more like religion than biology!

I use “diversity” as a political buzzword, but technically one could value human diversity without wishing all of it to be present one’s hometown. Some people seem to hope for all the world’s races / cultures to blend together into one, which could be interpreted as the opposite of diversity. Anthropologists will probably remind us that humans will form competing identity groups no matter what.

I disagree. I think it is possible to live harmoniously among people of different cultures, at least in principle. I think that cultural conflict stems from preceived threat and the resulting fear. I think people can rise above being motivated by fear.

You think it’s possible!? Show me one country on earth where that actually works.
Malaysia for example always claims to be such a place, but the truth is they do not live in harmony nor do they respect each other - they only tolerate each other. The government has a tight control over this to portray such perfect existence and to attract tourists, but if you leave them to their own devices they (the different races) would just “kill” each other.
Though they are somewhat dependend on each other they fail to realize that.

My friends here in Taiwan, who get together on a regular basis, include Taiwanese people, a Swede, Germans, a Nigerian, a Canadian, and me, an American. Put these people together on an island, and we’d get along fine.

Having multi-national colleagues or friends is way different from living in one country with people who are not your friends, just your countrymen.

Personally I believe my view on races and cultures have changed since I work/live abroad but I notice I get along better with people closer to my own culture.
E.g. I found it very difficult to get along with the Malays but made many, many good friends who are of Chinese race in Malaysia and a few Indians. Perhaps partially to do with their religion, always felt the Muslim in Malaysia are not very open to other religions - even though they are certainly moderate (not fanatic) and the government allows freedom of religion. Well, as far as this is possible in a predominantly Muslim country …

That said I must admit I am still “suspicous” of certain races and in fact try to avoid some of them though I want to try to see the individual and not judge him/her by his/her color of skin, origin or nationality only. But it’s not always easy for me to make “the first move”. Can’t really say why but I guess that’s something I still need to learn.

As well I tend to stick with my “Western” values, it’s not easy to change something you have been taught since childhood and some of these values appear to be better that those I am exposed to here. There are also those which I would consider better than my own, but then again adapting to those (if I wanted to) isn’t that easy either.

It all depends on what kind of day I am having and who has P##@ me off. Then I get over it and get back to the “everyone is equal” frame of mind.

[quote=“Rascal”]I disagree. I think it is possible to live harmoniously among people of different cultures, at least in principle. I think that cultural conflict stems from preceived threat and the resulting fear. I think people can rise above being motivated by fear.

You think it’s possible!? Show me one country on earth where that actually works.

I interpreted the topic as asking for our views and personal experiences. My view is that it is possible, in principle, for people of different cultures to live together harmoniously. My evidence was the microcosm of my own circle of a few dozen friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. We aren’t living together in the same village, but if we were, I am certain that we’d get along just fine.

When thinking about the issue, my thinking did not extend to entire countries. In general, I think that the larger the population, the more difficult harmony is to achieve. However, I have observed, and continue to observe, microcosms of people of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds living in harmony, both historically and in modern times. That’s been the pattern for harmony among diverse races–small communities of people who appreciate and accept the differences in each other’s views and backgrounds.

I think the key problem with us arguing this issue is that words like “harmony” and “works” (your words) are too subjective for us to achieve any kind of objective argumentation. May we agree that it is acceptable for us to express divergent opinions here?

Point taken. On a small scale (circle of friends) it might work, but I am more or less convinced that it won’t work in a bigger scale (like in one country). Looking at myself I don’t think I am accepted here, people always see me a the wai guo ren and basically count on the fact that I am leaving one day again. I can have friends here and perhaps even have a family, but I will never be Taiwanese. And this IMHO applies to most countries or races, especially if you look differently. I am not saying this is right or wrong though and exceptions to the rule may apply.

One of the reasons why I think a “unified” Europe will never ever work. Looking at the break up of formerly united states (hehe, no pun intended) in recent years I see this as evidence that people actually don’t want it, rather the opposite.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice and must live together (like in Malaysia) but it doesn’t mean it’s perfect harmony.

Perhaps those small microcosmos’ (is that the correct plural?) will grow one day to the size of an entire area or country even, but it’s a loooooooooong way to go …

Can people of different identity groups get along? Well, obviously they can on the small scale of individual friendships etc, but at the macro level of whole peoples…?

I think it depends on the characteristics of those identity groups, and whether their interests are in competition with one another. The French-speakers and German-speakers in Switzerland seem to get along all right, but (insert favorite ethno-national feud here).

Being part of a group of people who will stand by you and help you (and you them) has an obvious evolutionary advantage. In times of scarcity–when the pie to be divided is shrinking–such identity groups tend to clash most strongly. If you think the world can have eternal plenty, then perhaps identity groups will stop clashing. Otherwise, never. It’s in our evolutionary interest to do this, at least sometimes.

Maintainance of group identity also entails some sacrifice, since you are preferring your fellow group members over ordinary people in hiring, marriage, and whatever. Also you have to defend other members of your group when needed, a duty which falls especially to young and productive members who are thus most tempted to abandon the identity altogether. It’s always a question of balance, and different ethnicities have different strategies.

Another interesting aspect is that it can sometimes be in the interest of one group, to disband another group. For example Jews have done this (and this is a matter of historical record) with U.S. immigration policy, so as to dilute the white Christian core. In Europe the analogous struggle was between Marxism and the various nationalisms. (Notice that the voices crying most loudly that race does not exist, or is not important, are coming from an ethnic group which equally laments its own assimilation.)

My exposure to different cultures leaves me with the view that most people are interested in (ESSR)Eating, Shagging, Shopping & a bit of respect from thier fellow man. A very small minority are interested in some of the higher brain self actualisation stuff referred to above.

Overlay on this tribalism (I include religion in tribalism)which is a successful part of our evolutionary heritage designed to help us get more than our fair share of the ESSR at the expense of others.

I see greater differences in the relative importance placed on these different elements within a single culture than accross cultures.

Research (always a poor substitue for my uninformed opinions)may reveal that there are significant cultural differences eg Hong Kong people may really be more interested in shopping than shagging, but I doubt that the differences are so great as to make for cross cultural incompatibility.

living in taiwan has made me more APPRECIATIVE of my upbringing in California.

Could you please explain this and cite the record?

Could you please explain this and cite the record?[/quote]

I was going to post “Huh?” Oh look, I just did…

Vincent: can you please explain what the others have asked you to explain and back it up with facts. What you wrote has to be the most assinine thing I ever read in my entire life. But it is very interesting: how on Earth did you ever arrive at such a conclusion?

What books you been reading?

HUH? Yes, sandman, what the heck is this guy talking about?


But many people do hold these kinds of beliefs, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard such stuff. Just funny!

Vincent? The floor is yours…