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How do we free ourselves from cultural assumptions?
" Even if we try, freeing ourselves from our cultural prejudices is particularly difficult because each culture is likely to have developed rationalizations for its positions. We will hear the arguments as to why the prevailing belief is right much more frequently and in more detail than we will hear arguments for opposing positions. People may be very reluctant to express contrary opinions for fear of ridicule or persecution. It can be personally dangerous to express dissenting opinions in many cultures, and the religious concept of "blasphemy" is aimed at preventing people from expressing or perhaps even thinking ideas that are contrary to the established doctrine. Even without official persecution, our upbringing may make us feel that we are mentally unhealthy for even thinking thoughts that question strong cultural principles.
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Moral and ethical principles are where values come in. These principles grow out of deeply held beliefs and values, and are often the principles upon which community work is founded. Devotion to democratic process, to equity and fair distribution of resources, to a reasonable quality of life for everyone, to the sacredness of life, to the obligation of people to help one another – these all come not from logic or scientific experiment, but from a value system that puts a premium on human dignity and relationships.
One of the clearest statements of moral/ethical principle is that of the American Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson (with Benjamin Franklin’s help) in 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”
" At the same time, people may hold the same principles, but interpret them through different value systems. Two individuals may both believe, for instance, that all humans are created equal. For one, this may mean that she has a duty to treat everyone as an equal, and to try to gain equity for all. For the other, it may mean that since everyone starts out equal, anyone who doesn’t achieve or do well is at fault for his failure, and therefore deserves no help or respect.! (which view do you hold and how )
You and your assumptions - jesusgilhernandez.com
“Don’t make assumptions.” How many times did you hear that?
Instead of making assumptions about others, we’re supposed to “just ask.” When we’re making decisions, we should take nothing for granted. But, is that a good idea? Is it even possible? A lot of the time those assumptions make things better. They streamline our decision making and allow us to get through our days without using up precious mental energy on routine things.
The fact is that we simply can’t question or examine our assumptions. They’re mostly unconscious and the result of our upbringing, education, life experience and reading. The challenge isn’t to avoid making assumptions. The challenge is to understand when your assumptions can get you in trouble. It’s to identify which assumptions you should examine and when.
When you’re working in a different country or culture or company and people aren’t acting the way you expect, examine your assumptions. We’re talking about culture here. The culture of a group is the bundle of shared assumptions the members have about how people should act.
When you’re about to make an important decision, stop and ask, “What are we assuming here?” This is especially important when you’re making a big change or a big bet or you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.