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Perspective and Paradigm

September 4, 2013
     One of the most valuable gifts granted to me in my time in Norway so far is the expanded perspective. It's platitude to say that the world is much greater than most of us realize and that "broadening one's horizons" is very enlightening. Similarly, it is trite to respond that one does not realize how important gaining perspective is until they experience it for themselves. However, experiencing the new culture, the new ways, the new people, the new ideas for myself, subjectively, brings about an understanding that I have never quite felt before.
     This became the most apparent in my Psychology of Religion course yesterday. I grouped myself with some fellow students who will present on religious fundamentalism and its psychological underpinnings. Our conversation abstractly enough, but when the (European) group members started giving concrete examples of fundamentalism, every one that they gave was of Islamic fundamentalism. I thought that certainly we would be covering Christian fundamentalism first and foremost, as this sort of tradition is the one I am familiar with back in the US. When I brought up the Christian side of fundamentalism, the group members were really excited to hear my perspective, eager to learn information about Christianity that I considered obvious. As clueless as I am of Islamic fundamentalism, they are the same of Christian fundamentalism. This made me realize just how disparate our formative years in our cultures must have been in order for such different paradigms to develop.
     I am finding myself more sensitive now to the subtler differences between this culture and my native one, especially the small differences in acculturation that yield such different perspectives in our adult lives. It is my hope that this experience is only the tip of the iceberg in my cultural training. I hope, of course, but it is more to say that I will act.
     And I certainly intend to act.

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