In the 21st century, the process of globalization seems to have become part and parcel of everyday reality. While the phenomenon is usually viewed through the lens of economics, the phenomenon itself is, in fact, much more diverse and incorporates a range of other significant processes, including economic, political and socio-cultural ones. Speaking of the latter, globalization is also often perceived as the process of cultural fusion in general and the alteration to the existing languages in particular, which Foer and Appiah discuss in their articles. While both authors seem to have a legitimate point concerning the significance of understanding the differences between different cultures, social strata, and ethnicities, the ability to put this understanding to practice by developing a unique tolerance strategy for communicating with the members of other cultures without major conflicts seems a more legitimate approach towards an intercultural conversation process.
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Even though the approaches conjured by both Foer and Appiah seem quite legitimate to be utilized in the globalized environment, the researchers seem to have skipped a crucial stage in their definition of what makes the cultural differences the basis for an efficient intercultural dialogue. The authors have a point when identifying the key factors of intercultural conflict. True, people tend to see the world as a binary structure, a contraption of antipodal elements. Whether people split the world around them into the “soccer” and “anti soccer” individuals, as Foer claims the modern Americans do (Appiah 665), or whether people identify the society members from a financial perspective, splitting people into “elite” and “pariahs” (Foer 643), the necessity for most people to see the world as a black-and-white picture is quite obvious. Much to their credit, each of the authors suggests a viable method of handling the conflicts arising due to the collision of people’s cultural differences.
One must admit, though, that reconciliation as the ultimate goal of any intercultural negotiation process is hardly attainable entirely – due to the obvious differences in the visions of the opponents, the communication process may happen to be not as productive as it was expected to be. The existing prejudices, which block the way of the negotiation process, persist even in the present-day world of tolerance and democracy. The attitude towards the social elite, which can be traced in literally every society, is a graphic example of the futility of people’s attempts to reach an absolute compromise and complete understanding: “Elites have never been especially well-liked in the postwar American politics – or at least they have been easy to take swipes at” (Appiah 643). At this point, it becomes obvious that the language differences trigger a major inconsistency between the visions of different cultures and, therefore, the impossibility for one of the sides of the argument to view the situation through the lens of the other one (Lushford 146).
When it comes to choosing the right approach towards the search for a compromise, though, one must admit that focusing on the differences between the opponents may not be the best strategy for addressing the conflict. Quite on the contrary, the means for the foes to reconcile must be sought. True, with the help of a more thorough analysis of the differences between the opponents, one will be able to identify the points at which a compromise can be reached without hurting either of the parties; however, learning to accept – or at the very least, tolerate – the differences that make the opponent unique seem to be the basis for the American society of the 21st century to choose in order to remain integrated in the realm of competition and conflicts. Therefore, it is not only the understanding of differences between different tiers of the American society that keeps people in peace but the realization of how important these differences are to the identity of the people belonging to a certain class or culture.
While both Appiah and Foer clearly have a point in identifying the key factors that alienate people from each other, as well as those that bring the representatives of different cultures together in the realm of the 321st century globalization, they still seem to be missing the key point; it is not the understanding of the differences between various cultures that allows for the members of these cultures to reconcile, but the philosophy that helps opponents to work on the compromise through the understaffing of the specified differences and tolerance towards the latter. Naturally, it would be wrong to demand acceptance of entirely alien cultural principles from the people of one culture towards the members of the other ones; nevertheless, it is quite adequate to demand that people should work on identifying the paths towards mutual understanding. In the realm of globalization, it is important to be able to put cultural, political and national differences aside so that people could work on making the world a better place, and the concept of tolerance may be the silver bullet that will facilitate the environment of fast and efficient conflict solving and peacemaking.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Moral Disagreement.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader. Ed. Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins, 2012. 656–666. Print.
Foer, Franklin. “How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.” A Text and Reader. Ed. Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins, 2012. 639–648. Print.
Lushford, Andrea E. “Language.” A Text and Reader. Ed. Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins, 2012. 142–150. Print.