I was thinking about the spirit of 4th of July celebration this past weekend. An American holiday to commemorate declaration of independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain that was made on July 4, 1776. To me, it represents spirit’s deep desire for freedom and self-expression. I love Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
I took some time to reflect on what all this means in the multicultural society that we live in, where “we” is getting trickier to define in terms of race, ethnicity and collective identity. Is it “freedom of,” “freedom from,” or “freedom to”? It’s certainly not about every man, woman, and child for himself or herself. But it is the right to think, believe, value, speak, worship, and behave….freedom to choose….so long as it does not infringe on another person’s freedom. It is a shared value, securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
In a multicultural society, this typically means both celebrating the uniqueness of each culture and navigating relationships with cultural differences. I think multiculturalism should neither be a demand for special rights for minorities, nor a threat to protecting one’s own cultural identity and safety. It is a phenomenon of resolving differences and building on commonalities based on values of freedom, trust, respect, equality, dignity, open mindedness and mutual happiness.
Shared values are much more important in any relationship than skin color or demographics. Good, happy relationships – personal and professional – have a lot in common across all cultures, and challenges are all the same as well. To read the full article on how to make multi-and-cross-cultural relationships work, click here.