By Enrique Tessieri
If you want to build bridges of understanding between different cultures, you have to learn acceptance, respect, have an open mind and good social communication skills. The total opposite of the above are racism, ignorance, pigheadedness and the inability to learn about other cultures never mind effective communication skills.
Most of us learn to communicate socially in our country. Why? Because it is an effective way to speak to others and make your point.
Thanks to such a valuable skill we’ve been able to build and live today in a society that isn’t yet too polarized.
That has now changed especially after the April 17 election. Even if there may be many socio-economic factors at play, disrespect stands out as one of the culprits.
If we visit some websites in Finland like Hommaforum and Scripta, it becomes clear that they are forums where some people let their hate and racism hang out freely. How many of these bloggers would speak in such a tone to their own group? Maybe some, but not the majority because they know it is inappropriate and offensive.
For some odd reason, some Finns believe that it is perfectly fine to insult other groups. If they are criticized on this point for spreading urban legends, they point to the First Amendment, or freedom of speech.
There are ways to express opposition and other ways that are totally counterproductive. Racism and disrespect are ineffective ways to get your point across.
Kokoomus presidential hopeful, Sauli Niinistö, said in a recent interview on STT that disrespect is one of the key issues that has poisoned the debating atmosphere in Finland. “…since that person said it like that, I’ll show him (and hit him harder). Probably the person did not mean to be so offensive,” he said.
1. It’s okay to speak the language of another culture.
2. It’s okay to eat the food of another culture.
3. It’s okay to use the technology of another culture.
4. It’s okay for actors to dress in the clothes of another culture.
5. It’s NOT okay for you to dress in the clothes of another culture on Halloween.
6. It’s NOT okay to tell an African American that they sound like a ‘White’ person – even if you’re joking.
Do you think the following points apply to Finland? What would you add or omit from Robinson’s list?
Here is another link to seven innocent gestures that can get you killed overseas.