What it Means to be an "Outsider" in America

"On television talk shows, one hears the notion that America is a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values, which presumably means those are the only values worth knowing about, and outsiders should be the ones doing the studying and accommodating."

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

According to an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, who has also penned a couple of political novels, “knowledge of another person’s faith can have a profound effect on how different societies interact.”The life of an "outsider" in America can be a challenging one. The recent shooting at the Sikh Temple where a white American opened fire on innocent Asian worshippers was viewed as a “racial holy war.” It was a terrorist act that one could compare to the September 11 attacks, which have had many Americans side eyeing the Islamic world. “If the 9/11 attacks and the Sikh Temple shootings have taught us, it is that we don’t generally understand each other’s religious outlooks and world views very well.” 

What’s the Big Idea?

America is a pluralistic society that has a good and bad side, and one example of its bad side resulted in the death of six temple worshipers. Unlike other countries where the religion and language are the same across the board, there are many different religions, cultures and traditions. There needs to be a common respect in American society to avoid hate crimes from happening. “In short, studying another person’s faith doesn’t mean that one must adopt it, or abandon one’s own beliefs, but it can improve ‘the human condition, including a lessening of cultural conflict and war.’”  

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