It seems so natural that all people are absolutely different and there are no identical personalities in the entire world. The fact that all of us have our own tastes, interests, preferences and points of view guarantees the existence of this world. The process of becoming a personality, in other words an individual with one’s own point of view and behavior, might take a long time because people often need to try different roles and masks till they are able to choose the one that suits them. The diversity of society makes it vivid and progressing. It is difference of people that attracts them to each other and induces them to communicate and learn more about each other. However, such diversity of individuals makes our life both fascinating and full of controversies. Due to the difference between people, we have racism, discrimination, oppression, based on stereotypes, which prevent people of different races and nationalities from equal development and equal rights in the society.
The development of an identity is a complicated and many-sided process. It is influenced by the society, by the family and certainly, by the traditions and customs, which are characteristic of a particular nationality. Taking into account the rapid process of globalization, today adherence to traditions is of great importance in all big countries. Difference of people is especially visible when a country is rich in different nations and ethnic minorities, which all together make the society multinational and diverse. America is a telling illustration of a country that united thousands of people of different nationalities and became home for all of them. Since there is a great possibility to be either assimilated with millions of other people or oppressed and discriminated, it is indispensable to preserve your self-identity and your national consciousness in this “melting pot”. Traditions and customs are essential for full-fledged personality development. They form spiritual wealth of a person and contribute to his or her self-perfection.
However, modern society is often unwilling to accept other people the way they are. At first sight, it seems quite strange that the majority of people does not want to admit the fact that all of them are individuals and everybody has a right to have their own unique beliefs, habits and ways of life. People are usually guided by the wish to be superior to others and to oppress them due to this superiority. Therefore, they take every chance to find any drawback in others and to accuse them in their imperfection and their incompatibility with the society.
Very often, all these so-called drawbacks are nothing more than prejudice that is the foundation of most of social conflicts. If there are no grounds for conflicts, people can imagine them in order to humiliate others and to tower above them. Prejudice helps weak people to assert themselves and believe in their omnipotence. In spite of the reasons, people’s discrimination has the same history and the same roots in any time and in any country.
Such situation always leads to the desire of many young people of different nationalities to reject their background and to assimilate as soon as possible with the society they live in, which comprises a great number of people, who have already lost their sense of national identity and have no intention to link up with their heritage and history.
Nowadays the problem of racism is acute and needs mush attention. It becomes very close to ethnocentrism, which has a lot of interpretations, but they can be reduced to one meaning and it means to look down at people, who are different from you, and to put your ethnic group in the center of the universe. Ethnocentrism leads to miscommunication, appearance of stereotypes and these factors have a serious damage on the cross-cultural communication. (Thompson, 27)
In general, World War II was an illustrative example of racism. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi showed the unprecedented case of racism. The Holocaust, made by them, went down in history as one of the most horrible and devastating manifestations of racial discrimination. Being a territory that combines many countries with different cultures and besides, attracting immigrants from other continents, Europe witnessed many times different conflicts owing to racism. The most dangerous and alarming tendency, apparent nowadays, is the revival of Nazism, so-called Neo-Nazism, in certain European countries. Numerous attacks against Arabs and Jews appear in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, etc. (Derald, 126)
All these manifestations of ethnocentrism have a very negative influence on the discriminated identity. Existing stereotypes ruin personalities and drive them to hostility in return. Young people who are not able to assert themselves in the society start drinking and taking drugs in order to feel more self-confident and to be able to stand up for themselves. Besides being effective in struggle with stereotypes, drug and alcohol abuse becomes an essential part of young people maturing. Teenagers are especially subject to psychological instability. Young people begin to drink at about thirteen years old when their main aim is to assert themselves. Drugs and alcohol help them to feel free and independent and to do the things that are forbidden for them. Usually being controlled by their parents, they long to break all the rules and bans. It is proved by the statistics that the largest percent of substance abused men (17 – 24 %) is among those aged between eighteen and twenty-nine. Girls start drinking even earlier than boys do and it is a well-known fact that women’s alcoholism is difficult to cure and it has grave consequences (Pham-Kanter).
Considering everything, a person faces a great number of obstacles while searching for his own individuality. Being oppressed and neglected because of their race or nationality, trying to assert themselves, people often make mistake and take wrong decisions. Some of them resort to drugs and alcohol; others play different roles, adapting to situations and never being frank, even with themselves. Thus, people lose their identity and blend with a crowd of other characterless people. Meanwhile, the fact that some people try to make advantage of their difference and make it the reason for the humiliation of others is hard to understand. In the context of modern globalization people should realize that racism, ethnocentrism, any prejudice should be eradicated as there is no place for discrimination in our society. The difference of people is a fact, which should be accepted and appreciated, as it is this otherness that makes our life, life.
Derald, W. S. Overcoming Our Racism: The Journey to Liberation. Jossey-Bass, 2003
Pham-Kanter Genevieve. “Substance Abuse and Dependence”. Northeeast State. April 17, 2008 http://www.northeaststate.edu:2384/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=tel_a_nestcc&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX3405601509&&docId=GALE|CX3405601509&docType=GALE
Thompson, W., Hickey J. Society in Focus. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2005
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