This week we, PR United 5, have had our facilitated Discussion where we addressed the topic ”When in Rome, do as the Romans”. We approached the topic as a question of individuality, asking: When visiting a foreign society, should you be obliged to conform to its cultural and religious believes and rules. Or do you preserve the right to present your own ethical values?
What we talked about before our discussion was the ethical considerations, the problems and opportunities of the corporate world, in the light of this topic. What we learned was that most (western) corporate businesses are obliged to perform after the rules and laws of the country it is based. So, if a British based organisation is doing business in China, it still has to perform after the British regulations.
However, when a Chinese organisation comes to Britain to do businesses, they are still obliged to follow British rules and laws, even if they are based in China. Now, isn’t this a bit hypocritical? This is basically saying that Chinese that want to do business with a British organisation, always have to act after the British rules, even in their home country.
Trade has been a part of our history for as long as there have existed life on this planet, and it is the trade, which have created the 2011 civilisation. However, I would imagine that this will act as a breaking factor of the ongoing trade globalisation, or globalisation as a whole for that matter. What if every country, or at least the ones that make up the biggest trade societies, suddenly decides to introduce this rule?
What is interesting here, is that the western societies is usually following a relativistic point of view – there is no absolute right and wrong, everything has to be seen in the light of a context before it can be judged as right or wrong. While the eastern societies, then especially China, is typically defined as Absolutist societies, where an act is either right or wrong, no matter the context. In the trading world however, the tables are turned.
How come that some societies accept representatives from other societies coming in to their world, demand and force their foreign rules upon them. I guess the easy answer is the need for profit. This can also explain why it usually is the “rich” countries that follows the absolutist approach in the trading world, and why the “less fortunate” adopt the relativistic approach.
I guess profit is the one thing that makes people able to incline. In the matter of religion and culture however, the discussion a turn for the worse…
Religion – Saints or sinners?
The world is altering. It used to be that if you named a country, you could match a religion to it. But now, eyes have opened and cultural experiences have widened. There are countries that have become so multi-cultural that the idea of even mentioning a one and only religion to coincide with one country sounds preposterous. However, should this be the case? Should countries be adopting other religious faiths? The idea of taking on other religious and cultural faiths is nice… But does it mean a country is losing its national and historical identity?
I know everyone has their own and utterly different opinions, but my thoughts and feelings are that if you move to another country, you respect their cultural faiths. I’m not saying leave your religion behind you, but once you leave your native country you have moved into a completely different culture (even if it is a country right next door).
A Jehovah Witness headmaster in a British school in Hampshire did not allow the school put up Christmas decorations. The fact that he was a Jehovah Witness should not affect the rest of the students studying there. There could, of course, be many reasons as to why he did this, but surely if there are a majority of Church of England students, in a culture where the celebration of Christmas is very popular, there should be some sign of that. Obviously, he may well have done this so students of other religious faiths would not feel segregated, but I’m not so sure this is fair on the majority.
Now, there are many issues to do with faith, culture and law. But, how about the banning of face veils? France is not the only country to do this and is only being used as an example for this blog. Other countries include Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Albania, Tunisia, Australia and Syria, with Italy just approving a draft. France has 5million Muslims, with only 2,000 women believed to actually wear a face veil. Currently a €150 (£135) fine or lessons in French citizenship can be given if the burqa or niqab is worn in public. I am in two minds about this. On one side, public safety is necessary when it comes to identification and knowing people are who they say they are, but on the other I feel this could be against simple human rights of practising a religion. I have been told that this isn’t generally enforced in France, but I can’t help but think that the stigma of the law still being there exists. Overall, I believe that public safety comes first over being politically correct and if some people get a little offended then… so be it. It is a shame when people/groups ruin it for others, in the 21st Century can you be too careful?
My final point is the idea of respecting religions. Should we be forced to cover up (out of respect for religion) when visiting countries? I firmly think we should, wearing less clothing is highly different to covering up and can be quite offensive to some even in countries where this doesn’t apply for religious purposes. However, in Australia, the most senior Muslim cleric condoned rape, saying “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside without cover, and the cats come to eat it whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s?”. This is set in a country where there is no necessary need to cover up, people spend a lot of time in swim apparel and smaller/lighter clothing due to the heat. Is this religion going too far? This is an opinion coming from one person, but when this person is that countries most highest Muslim cleric, is can comes across as the opinion of the majority. Whomever this opinion belongs to does not matter, I don’t agree with it. My thoughts on any religion were that they were to test and show your dedication to the faith, such as showing restraint when faced against something of temptation (the story of Eve and the apple). But, if this cleric is condoning rape when women are not covered, then he’s saying it’s fine to give in to temptation when it’s given to you on a plate. Where are the morals and ethics in that?
Manners Etiquette consideration: did you just accidentally insult someone?
Practical consideration: what’s the fallout of your behavior?
Ethical consideration: is this universally wrong?
Why would you act differently at home (in Rome) compared to another home?
Why would you act differently in university compared to how you would act at home?
Why would you act differently on holiday destination (Napa) than if you were to act at home (your own country)?
Putting these three theories in to context will help to understand how each scenarios play out. For example with the situation involving the Muslim headscarves in France. From a government point of view we can see that practical aspect of the situation in terms of not being able to identify people wearing these scarves to cover their face. Taking in to consideration that the country is under threat of terrorism it does make sense why they would want to protect their French citizens from another attack so the disapproval of headscarves from the governments stand point is for a practical reason for the safety and insurance of the people.
Looking from a manner’s point of view well you got to ask yourself who is being offended here? Is it the government, the French citizens or the women who where the scarves? Is it a matter of offending one’s culture by not taking into consideration how the other feels about your actions?
Last point is from an ethical standpoint, whether the actions and decisions is a matter of value and principles. Taking into consideration that the headscarf is a traditional custom to Arabic countries and Muslim religion, in the eyes of the people who practice this religion taking off the scarf could be a matter of principle! Maybe the scarf means more the person than what you first thought or assumed.
When in Rome – Educational differences.
With the growing number of people and families immigrating to other countries there has been an increase in multi language education. But the big question is, should you learn in the language of the country or should you learn in your own language. This caused a big debate for a facilitated discussion this week as the majority of our class are originally from other countries such as France, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, and Norway there were many different thoughts about this subject flying around.
Is it right that a family can immigrate to Marbella and their children learn in an English school taught by English teachers with the OPTION of learning the country’s language of Spanish? Or do you think they should be taught in a Spanish school by Spanish teacher but in English yet having to also learn Spanish?
I personally think out of respect for the country the child should be taught by Spanish teacher, this is so the child can gain the culture of the country by people who know it best, it also means the child can learn strictly what is acceptable in the country and what is not. The Spanish they are would be taught would also be a lot effective coming from someone who knows it as their first language. If there were schools in the UK which only taught in German and the students didn’t need to learn any English I would be quite offended so why should it be any different for us? Because English is a second language to most other countries maybe? This is not the point though.
My second point is should the child learn the basics of the language before going anyway? The earlier the language is taught they more likely they are to remember it and learn it quicker. This could give them some foundations before going so they can build upon it actually in the country and learning first-hand. I think it would be useful for the child to already know the basics just as it is a start, but again it is not required anywhere. This could also stop the child feeling left out when in the country especially as they start to make friends there and want to interact with them.
Lastly looking more in to whether it is offensive to the country to be living there and not knowing any language. If there was someone in England who didn’t know any English, I would be offended and feel like they do not deserve to be here., It would also make it impossible to communicate with local people if you do not know their language. It would be even more offensive to expect Spanish people to talk in English to you, purely because you might not be bothered to learn the language. With the focus being on children in education, they are at their prime age for learning and picking up a new language so they should definitely take that opportunity and learn it, even if they don’t plan to stay in that country for the rest of their lives it is still a good skill to have.
I would not feel comfortable with people not knowing English in England, especially if they come to learn. They would not be able to learn in our schools or universities without knowing English fluently. So why should this be different for us in other countries?!