As media scholars, in appreciating cultural artifacts, such as literature and film, we are taught to appraise them contextually. For instance, appreciating Usmar Ismail's films, which includes ideas of modernisation and postcolonialism, you need to understand the historical context and his progressive use of film as a social communication tool.
In appreciating art form, one needs to take into account the historical context within which it was produced, which relates to the dominant ideology of that time. How it breaks the barriers and questions authority. The premise led me to think about how we perceive other human beings.
In understanding other human beings, shouldn't we also understand the context within which they were raised? Their dominant ideology, their 'historical context'?
It is much too easy for us, when we are exposed to different beliefs and values, to feel disconfirmed and position ourselves as 'us' and they 'others'.
I think that if we try to understand other people's thoughts and words by taking into consideration the way they were raised, their cultural background or ethnicity, their religion, their gender construction, their social and economical class, their subjective reality - there is an opportunity for us to make sense of their acts and thought process.
That reality is too relative to judge based on a 'single' event. And by understanding their 'reality' it is much easier to comprehend their way of thinking and the actions they take. If we're lucky enough, make ourselves understood.
I've recently come to realise that every moment we refuse to understand, we are actually depriving ourselves from a chance to learn. The moment we stop 'listening', stop 'reading', is the moment where we stop becoming more than we are.
Knowledge of difference shouldn't disconfirm our beliefs and values. If what we believe in is true, then difference should strengthen it. Or at least, help us understand that life isn't about right or wrong. It's about learning how to be, simply, 'good'.
And now, sigh, back to writing my thesis.