A while ago, I was approached by a friend of mine to describe the difference between two concepts 1)multicultural and 2)cross-cultural. In our discussion I couldn’t help but to think about how isoculturalism drives the cross-cultural experience. We came to recognize that while multiculturalism intends to bring different opinions into the same forum of life and experience, one can be in a multicultural environment, and have no cross cultural experience at all. Simply put, multiculturalism doesn’t drive people together into unity, but to co-exist.
While the world has not been a place throughout history where societies have been driven to live in harmony, and beyond that, in unity, there seems to be a positive trend towards us wanting to pass by the need for individual identity, within our small separate worlds, and to recognize our global identities, and the role we play in this grand narrative of humanity.
But in order to be driven to find a more integrated identity into our increasingly globalized and flattened world, we must be willing to, at times, put our own personally prescribed identities aside, so as to engage into other identities, and other cultures. Isoculturalism would have us set our own identities aside at times to actually encourage other cultures, and other identities to succeed, even beyond our own. Isoculturalism has us ask how we can help others find growth and success in their own cultural identities, while sacrificing our own.
Ultimately, multiculturalism is helpful in that it allows us to see, hear, taste, smell, and touch other realities that we have not been able to in history. But we can resist letting these senses change our hearts, and who we have become. We can resist them to retain our own identities (egoculturalism), not allowing them to become part of who we are, and minimizing our need to join the global narrative of history. I hope that as we learn how to care for others, in other cultures for their good, and not ours, sacrificing our own cultures (cultural altruism), we can see how isoculturalism will lead many into unity for the first time in history for the sake of our common future.