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"All Cultures Are Created Equal" - Is this categorized as an analytical paper?

Brianne 2 / 17  
Sep 17, 2009   #1
All Cultures Are Created Equal

People from cultures of all types seem to have a tendency to believe that they are superior to others in just about every way imaginable. While this may not be true for everyone, a large majority of the world tends to feel this way. This ideology is quite apparent when people attempt to compare their cultures to others. This condescending nature of human beings to feel as if their culture is superior to others can be challenged by Ishmael Reed's arguments in: "America: The Multinational Society" that most culture coexist and respect one another, Leslie Marmon Silko's claim that discrimination is destructive in "Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit," as well as Billy Collins' views on intellectual and creative equality in his poems, "You, Reader" and "Flock." However, these feelings of superiority are unfounded as no one culture is truly greater than any other, because if all people are created equal, then all cultures should be equal, moreover, all cultures experience the similar problems, and they all discriminate against one another.

Certainly, the idea that all people are created equal can either be traced back to their religious views, particularly the Christian religious views that believe all people are created in the image and likeness of God (Holy Bible, Genesis 1. 26-27), or their culture. Regardless of faith, many people still believe that no one person is worth more than another, no matter what race, religion, or culture they originate from. In support of equality of all cultures, Ishmael Reed argues in his article, "America: The Multinational Society," that because of the different cultures' ability to interact with one another, they reinforce each other on equal basis. For instance, Reed describes a story he was told about the city of Detroit as follows: "He said that one section included mosques, built by the Islamic people who dwelled there. Attending his reading, he said, were large numbers of Hispanic people, forty thousand of whom lived in the same city" (359). This example can be seen as evidence of a society progressing into a future where everyone is treated equally, although there is still a long way to go. Not only are people of different races and cultures living in the same city together, but they are also worshipping and socializing together. In fact, these fusions of cultures can even be seen in fast food restaurants where "One of the artists told me that his paintings, which included African and Afro-American mythological symbols and imagery, were hanging in the local McDonald's restaurant" (359), attracting many customers from different cultures, which illustrates the fact that art enriches all people irrespective of cultures.

In addition, Billy Collins also features the same philosophy of equality between all people in his online poem, "You, Reader." This poem focuses on the intellectual equality between the poet and his readers. "It was just a matter of time before one of us happened to notice the unlit candles and the clock humming on the wall." The fact that either Collins or the reader could have been inspired by these symbols to write this poem emphasizes Collins' recognition of universal intellectual or creative equality, which shares the same level of equality of all people from different cultures who read his poems. If all people truly are equal, then how can it be that people from one culture can be better than others?

Since all cultures contain people of equal worth, it seems certain that these people would share similar problems. So, all cultures, whether it is American, North Korean, or Russian, or African, or any other culture, worry about the same necessities of life and self preservation. People even tend to borrow ideas from other cultures to develop theirs, as questioned by Reed, "Are the Russians, who are often criticized for their adoption of 'Western' ways by Tsarist dissidents in exile, members of Western civilization?" (360). It is obvious that money, security, and stability within the country seem to be the most prominent problems throughout every culture. How can one culture be superior to another when they all have to worry about the same issues? No one culture is above these problems, which means that they cannot possibly be above any other culture either.

Another issue no culture is above is discrimination which is mainly a result of ignorance and superiority complex. Leslie Marmon Silko, author of "Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit," has experienced discrimination many times as she grows up different from the rest of the people in a Laguna Pueblo reservation on the Rio Grande. Silko is a mix of Mexican, European, and Laguna ancestry while the other people in the reservation are completely Laguna, so she becomes the subject of ridicule because of it. Silko recounts the people's discriminatory attitude that "Younger people, people my parents' age, seemed to look at the world in a more modern way. The modern way included racism" (373). Reservations are far from the only place where racism or discrimination occurs. People have seen it in the media, in their places of business, even just walking down the streets, regardless of which culture they belong to. Similarly, the subject of "fitting in" is also the central focus of Billy Collins' poem, "Flock." In this poem, Collins describes a flock of sheep and how similar they all look to each other that it would be impossible to tell them apart. The image of "a flock of sheep," represents all Laguna people in Silko's hometown because they all look similar the way the sheep do. Since Silko does not look identical to the rest of the flock, she remains an outsider which leads to the discrimination against her, similar to what Hispanics and African- Americans experience in society.

Finally, Silko is not alone in her feeling, however, since discrimination exists within every culture, perhaps the superiority complex some cultures feel will never disappear completely, but hopefully it will diminish over time. The truth remains that no one culture has any advantage over another, and is in no way superior. While there are, of course, differences among cultures; who is to say which differences are better than the others? It all depends upon each person's personal perception, but for peaceful coexistence, all cultures are equal. Maintaining this equality is the way of the future, hopefully, not-so-distant future.

EF_Simone 2 / 1,987  
Sep 17, 2009   #2
However, these feelings of superiority are unfounded

The "however" and "these" in this sentence makes it seem to be referring back to the previous sentence, in which you reference Silko and Collins. But Silko and Collins do not assert superiority.

This kind of structural incoherence characterizes this essay. You've got a number of defensible points (although I personally would challenge some of them) but no coherent structure. What's your thesis, exactly? Are you able to state it and then summarize for yourself the specific points you make in defense of it? Do that and then organize those points into some sort of logical order. Place your paragraphs in that order, writing transitions as needed. Make sure that your introduction and conclusion are consistent with one another.

If you're wondering what I dispute about your thesis, it's the idea that all cultures are equivalent. While all people certainly are created equal, cultures are shaped by the ecological and historical circumstances in which they arise and evolve. Hence, some cultures are violent while others are pacific. Some are relatively egalitarian while others are stratified in ways that are very hurtful to sub-sets of people within them. I don't think it does anybody any favors to pretend this isn't true.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 18, 2009   #3
Your problem here is that you haven't defined "equality," or, for that matter, "culture." In a whole host of senses, your thesis is demonstrably false. Native American culture is clearly not equal to mainstream American culture, for example. It was not technologically equal when the two cultures met. It is not now socially or economically equal. Inasmuch as these are all elements of culture, your statement is clearly false. Normally, when people say "all cultures are equal," what they really mean is "we would like for people of all cultures to be socially, economically, and legally equal." Or, very often without realizing it "we want one global culture in which everyone subscribes to our core values." Also, if you hadn't noticed, most people who say that various groups are "equal" usually begin by offering an explanation for the inequalities between those groups, as if explaining something were the same as denying it. This should be an immediate clue that various meanings of equal are being employed, with a fair amount of self-deception thrown into the bargain.

The confusion in your thinking is evident from the beginning. American multiculturalism is the best culture because it believes in cultural equality, unlike most other cultures? If you can't say something without contradicting yourself, whatever you are trying to say is false.

Also, you conflate several ideas -- cultural tolerance, belief in individual equality, and belief in racial equality. None of these are necessarily contingent on one another, and all, again, rely on different meanings of equality. No one seriously believes that all people are equal in abilities, or in personality traits. What they mean is that all people are, or at least should be, equal before the law. It doesn't matter if you are stupid, lazy, and/or poor or intelligent, hardworking, and/or rich. If you kill someone in cold blood, you go to jail for the same length of time (ideally).

If you were to make it clear that you realized some of this, and to take account of it, your essay would rapidly become a lot more coherent.

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