Respecting Culture & Tradition

"Mursi Lip Plate Ethiopia" by Eric Lafforgue on FlickrSometimes I like to argue a point with which I don’t necessarily agree in order to facilitate dialogue about a specific subject.  The topic of conversation tonight was female circumcision.  This is a popular practice in many African tribes and it marks the passage into womanhood.  It is considered to be an important part of their culture and ethnic identity.  It is also a highly controversial subject.

In areas where female circumcision is practiced, a person’s place in society is determined by family lineage.  Female circumcision prevents uncertainty about paternity by discouraging intercourse prior to marriage.  In some cultures a family may receive property or money in exchange for their daughter, and her virginity is essential in arranging for marriage.

While I don’t agree with the practice of female circumcision, I do believe that culture and tradition should be respected.  It is simple to say that something is wrong and that it is unacceptable.  It is harder to look at something and instead say, “I don’t understand, but I will not condemn.” 

When we see or hear about something we don’t understand our automatic reaction is to feel that it is wrong.  We make no attempt to try to understand, and that is where we fail.  Had we taken the effort to remain open-minded and try to understand we may not be so quick to judge.

While walking through life it is important to keep an open mind and do our best to be understanding and less judgemental.  What makes us unique is that we are all different.  We all value different things and there isn’t always such a defined “right” or “wrong”.

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