Monday, January 30, 2012

Roommate Blends

I've been thinking about the excerpt from Michael Agar's book ever since we read it at the beginning of the semester. One thing that hit me at the time was that the conflict I was having with a friend was a matter of cultural difference. I'm going to try to describe this difference without a qualitative judgment: one of my dear friends (a roommate in fact) has a different way of making requests than I do. The "would you mind..." or the "could I ask you to maybe..." formulas that I use to soften requests and allow people room to decline just aren't a part of her thought process.

At first I thought this was because she didn't care about me or the trouble I might go to in order to help her out, but now that I think about it I go through all sorts of verbal performances in order to fulfill standards of thoughtfulness or to make myself feel that I am not going to offend others. So what if she doesn't do the same? It doesn't mean that I need to be offended, or that she doesn't value our friendship. I still feel sincerely when I speak this way, I don't think that I am using affectations or being superficially polite. But I have come to realize that it's more a matter of style and one mode of expressing my inner values of empathy and thoughtfulness than it is the only way to prove that you value those things. Furthermore, I might say that even though I relate to and value those virtues, even they are not universal and are just how I want to conduct my own self rather than being necessary guiding principles in other people's lives. There are some principles which are universal (I think), but I think I would do best to give people the benefit of the doubt on those and leave everything else to their personal business while I continue to conduct my own and attempt to live by my own internal value system.

I came to these conclusions shortly before reading the "Culture Blends" article for class, and when I read it was struck with a feeling of recognition. Not only does each group's culture manifest differently, but each individual's culture (aka personality) may differ in ways that seem to connote value differences but in reality are just a different way of expressing the same humanity. Next situation to tackle with that mindset, what to do when our kitchen looks like this to me:

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