Recently we were talking about cultural assumptions and values. Our society today is rushed and is constantly putting pressure on its people to be successful. When filling out the “Summary of Cultural Assumptions and Values” sheet, I found myself marking entries related to how our society is fast paced, stressful, goal driven, and achievement is everything.
The recent episode with the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano demonstrated our dependence on machines. This tiny island in the middle of basically nowhere put a stop to a large sector of the global community and global economy. It is obvious that our society values money. The television coverage of this volcanic eruption spoke often of the millions and even billions of dollars lost by the airlines, travel industries, agricultural products and more. Businesses are in a panic worrying about the cost of business expenses for employees stranded in many European cities. These employees are costing the company money, but they are not conducting any business transactions nor making sales for the company. Essentially, they are on an all expenses paid vacation from the company. What is the driving force in our society? It is to achieve success and make money whether for yourself or the company you work for. European governments and many businesses are upset because they could not control the situation. We like to think we can control nature and become frustrated when we must submit to fate. The dominant US culture has continued to believe that we can wrap nature around out fingers and tame it. As we continue to do this we only hurt nature more and more. How many people will lose their job because their solution to the suspending of air traffic ended up costing the company money? The eruption of this volcano has only shown that we do not have control over everything especially nature.
Stewart, E.C., Danielian,J., & Foster, R.J. (1998). In M.J. Bennet (Ed.). Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: A reader. (pp. 157-172). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press (Selections)
Stewart, E. C., & Bennett, M. J. (1991). Perception of self (CH 7). In American cultural patterns: A cross-cultural perspective (Rev. ed),(pp. 129 - 148). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press (Selections)
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