With the diversity of American culture alone, it is inevitable that I will be able to come into direct contact with the culture of others. I have come to realize that my response to these cultures, that is, how I judged its moral weight, appropriateness and meaning is highly influenced by my own previous cultural experiences (Horton & Leslie, 1970, 28). One unforgettable experience I have is with the Filipino family that I befriended a few years back. I noticed that Filipino children take one palm of their elders and pressed the back of that palm to their foreheads to show their respect.
I first think this is equivalent to kissing the parent or elder’s cheek in American culture. Yet I have learned that that gesture carries deeper meaning than just the casual kissing of the cheek of the Americans (which had become a meaningless routine for some) for in Filipino culture not only does it signify paying respect but also it is also a gesture of humble submission to their elders or parents, of an acknowledgement of their subordinate position. With that knowledge, I am reminded of the “bowing” gestures of the Koreans in showing respect also to their elders.
Although I always admire such acts of humility, sometimes I cannot help but think that these Asian children may be restricted to make decisions of their own. It is so much different from the pervasive American culture of independence which gave greater priority to respecting personal decisions that fosters personal growth. With this thought in mind, I am biased to think that submissiveness in Asian culture is carried too far. Reference: Horton, Paul and Gerald Leslie. (1970). The Sociology of Social Problems, Fourth ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts Educatio
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