“Culture,” is the distinguishing factor among/between all of us. It’s the thing that makes getting along with our own easy and with others, hard. Culture means more than one thing but I use it as Webster first defines it:

“the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group – also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time…”

Neither you nor I can do anything about the culture we were born and raised in. The way we behave with each other, the way we celebrate, grieve, remember, or hope, the ways we react to success or failure. These things are so deeply ingrained in us that they become our default behavior in most every circumstance. It’s what makes us, “US” and them, “THEM.” It causes us to see “the other.”

In itself, this is mostly harmless. However, humans, as a group, are a suspicious lot and when the “other” appears to, in some way – either actual it perceived – threaten our culture by imposing theirs, we typically lash out.

There are many examples of this in modern times and in history (think Native Americans being forced to speak, dress and act like the white man – and even take their names).

However, if we are ever going to get along with other cultures, we must learn about them, experience them, and appreciate them. Only then will we not be threatened by them.

Travel, reading, observing, spending time with others, while honoring our own culture are ways we can enjoy peace and prosperity.

It’s true that there are dictators who want to rule the world and decimate the other cultures but that’s beside the point. That will not affect the majority of us. We should be outraged at such things while remaining more tolerant of the other cultures in day-to-day life.

The great majority of the “other” are nonthreatening to your way of life. This is what it means to “love one another” in practical terms.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

“Sup?” That’s a cultural concept. It is also found between Jesus and Judas in John 13:26, “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”

“Sop” or “Sup” is the act of dipping bread in wine and sharing it with another. It is communion. From that idea we get our word, “supper,” to share a meal. The general idea is a cauldron of soup or porridge with bread to dip into it. It’s evolved to mean sharing an evening meal.

Here’s the point, if you want to understand another’s culture while holding onto your own, share a meal with them. Two actually. Invite someone from another culture to your home for your cultural meal. Then allow them to return the favor.

Consider these thoughts:

“Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain

“If you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.” – Kahlil Gibran

The point? Open your table and you’ll open someone’s heart.

Ken Shelton

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