The Case for Contamination
(i) Describe Appiah’s approach and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.
In his essay, the case for contamination, Appiah (2006) uses a narrative approach to illustrate the many forms of cultural assimilation. She draws personal experiences to compare and contrast cultural integration. For instance, in her native home in Asante, people observe a customary welcome for the King and at the same time exhibit modernization by wearing suits and using cell phones (p. 1). This approach is advantageous in that, it helps him to convey his opinions, emotions, and judgments in a way that allows the reader to identify with the occurrences. In other words, the reader gets a clear glimpse of events, through the explanation and description offered by the author. The approach also helps the author to offer actual evidence by drawing illustrations from real life experiences. On the other hand, in this approach, the readers may be biased because the views portrayed in the essay are that of the author. As a result, the essay may sound factual and casual. Also, the approach limits the experience of the readers because it only offers one side of the story; according to the author.
(ii) Explain how religions help people express their identities both as individuals and as members of a group.
According to Appiah (2006), religion can help individuals and members of a group to express their identity. For instance, believing in human dignity for all, and living by the doctrine of the religion is a way of identifying a person’s identity. Also, sharing the religious beliefs with people and resisting any temptations that could make one divert from the specific religious values. Identity could also be achieved by disapproving the worldly ways that are against one’s religion. Also, an individual can express their identities by shunning any relationships or family ties that contradict with the doctrine of one’s religion. Additionally, showing persistence struggle towards the achievements of religious goal, and soldering on to make the world a better place would lead to the portrayal of one’s identity. In the essay, Appiah (2006) has used the above practices to identify the Muslim religion “fundamentalists” (p. 4). Conversely, the radical “neofundamentalists” Muslim groups are identified from their terrorism practices such as jihad, which Appiah describes as a “political decision”, though justified through religion (p. 4). Religious wars and conflicts have also been used to express the identity of some religious groups. For instance, Appiah (2006) explains that, the French Wars of Religion took place for four decades following which; Henri IV of France allowed the Protestants to practice their faith. Also, in Britain, Protestants’ armies were fighting against the Catholic King during the English Civil War of 1651 (p. 4). Notably, these wars were fought in order to protect and express the identifications which are associated with the particular religions.
(iii) What did you learn about the need for and the potential of better understanding between religions?
The use of force and conflicts to seek religious identity always result in more conflicts and deaths of innocent individuals. For instance, the British Civil War resulted in the death of approximately 10 % of the population (p. 4). In addition, Jihad wars have caused a lot of harm around the world. Also, millions of people died of hunger and sickness during the French Wars of Religion. It is, therefore, important for different religious followers to tolerate the beliefs of others in order to create an understanding between them. According to the cosmopolitanism, this can be achieved if religionists accept the fact that “different religions and societies embody varying values” (p. 4). Besides, they should understand that sagacity of an individual or a group is imperfect, temporary and subject to amendment in case new evidence is discovered. These considerations would make the religionists to appreciate the local variations for better understanding between religions. Moreover, as Appiah (2006) argues, different people require varying spiritual development in order to acquire fulfillment and optimal developments in their mental, moral, and aesthetic aspects (p. 1).
(iv) In your view, what is the best way to approach interreligious dialogue (For example, should we all become the same or should we value our diversity? If the latter, how do we do this
My personal view on the best way to approach interreligious dialogue is that every person should have the absolute right to follow their religion of choice. However, tolerance limits should be set in order to ensure that, one does not affect other people in the society by following a particular religion. Also, I concur with Appiah (2006) in that a healthy religious diversity can be achieved if every individual or group realizes their imperfection as humans and appreciate the religious views of the others. Moreover, people should seek clarifications in order to eliminate stereotypes and negative perceptions that hinder them from respecting other religions.
(v) Is globalization a help or a hindrance to diversity?
Some people argue that globalization is a hindrance to diversity. This is because it leads to adaptation of the western culture and dilution of native cultures. However, this approach starts by considering the culture instead of individuals as the proper object of moral concern. In globalization, the liberated exchange of ideas, the freedom of speech and civil rights spread throughout the world through individuals and not culture. Also, this happens through the use of technology which has been developed in the course of globalization. Moreover, Appiah (2006) found that, the way that people relate to foreign cultural influences is connected to their existing cultural context (p. 3). Therefore, globalization is a help to diversity.
Appiah, K. A. (2006). The case for contamination. New York Times Magazine, 1, 32.