From 21st January – 1st February, four FCJs (Srs. Agnes and Inez from the Area of Asia-Australia, and Gloria and Katherine from the Area of Europe) attended a course on Engaging our Diversity through Interculturality. It was held by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in Rome, Italy. There were 180 religious sisters from 45 congregations throughout the world.
Culture is the way we see, feel, relate and perceive the world. If we use languages as indicator of number of cultures, there are more than six thousand cultures in the world today. Our world is a world of difference, of diversity. The workshop called us to rediscover the dignity of the difference. From the theological point of view, God creates the difference. Therefore difference is good. Difference is a blessing. Isn’t it wonderful that there are many different nations, languages, art, races religions and beliefs? Every culture brings its richness and uniqueness. When we are able to embrace this diversity, we will be enriched because we get opportunity to perceive the world from different lenses.
Different lenses can also lead to conflict, division and separation because our tendency is to see the world from our own cultural lens (ethnocentrism). My culture is right and others are wrong is the effect of these lens. However, no culture is perfect. Culture is dynamic, evolving and redeemable. In this era of globalization when people mix together through migration, we need to develop new way of living together: to shift from dialectical thinking (either/or, one is right the other is wrong) to analogical thinking (both/and, compromise).
Difference is God’s creation. Difference is good. We are called to celebrate the diversity and to be enriched by many way of relating to the world. Engaging the diversity is also a way to build a home where all human beings can live and everyone belongs. It is a way of a lifetime conversion.