The Case of Contamination essay

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Kwame Anthony Appiah in his article The Case for Contamination discusses three interconnected issues: cultural diversity, globalization, and ethical contemplation.  The author describes two roles that religion plays within all these issues. This essay presents the opinion of Kwame Anthony Appiah regarding multiethnic unity expressed in the New York Times article The Case for Contamination. The author claims that multiethnic unity is a tool that can be used to achieve deeper comprehension of religious multiplicity and distinctiveness.  It also can be used to avoid the erosion of religious conviction into a secular hypothesis subjugated by the ideals of the crowd.

Appiah argues that, on one hand, religion can be used constructively to safeguard culture during times of globalization.  It helps people to uphold their unique cultural practices while being subjected to external globalization forces e.g. media. Religion can help to preserve cultures and their customs as the globalization process accelerates.  For instance, Appiah mentions the incident of an extremely devout Zulu man Sipho from the state of South Africa.  He was devoted to his cultural customs and beliefs while also being impacted by globalization agents such as television. He watched American TV programs and was enjoyed the show called Days of Our Lives.  He claims that this soap opera helped him comprehend and improve his relations with his father.  However, there are still several aspects of the soap opera that remain unaccepted to Sipho and people of his culture e.g. a woman dating before she is 20.  

On the other hand, the impact of religion on the development of globalization can be damaging. Conservatives fear globalization and are convinced of its destructive effect on their beliefs. There are two approaches according to which it is possible to tackle the concerns of conservatives: cultural and economic. In terms of culture, the introducing of Western beliefs impacts the culture via “grand media”, as asserted by Herbert Schiller in Appiah’s article. The other outlook that conservatives have is that the prevalence of inexpensive Western apparel in the market has made it more expensive to dress in the religious old-fashioned clothing made of silk (Appiah 23).

Appiah’s article The Case for Contamination presents interesting facts about sharing of information in the culturally diverse environment.  It shows the significance of engaging in relations that surpass the social boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and race in curing the world of cultural discrimination and racism. Whereas this hypothesis is important, it has to be evaluated from the perspective of religion. This implies examining the extent to which it is coherent with the aims of traditional and spiritually dogmatic conviction. For instance, nowadays it is common to hear individuals say that there is only one faith or that all faiths are identical.

However, this may result in the reluctance to look at the differences that describe religions distinctively in their own ethical terms.  It is important to apprehend the differences between cultural and religious beliefs, instead of rapidly glossing them over in support of a Unitarian conviction that overlooks the core lessons of the religious convictions themselves. For instance, by learning features of Islam, prayer, submission, pilgrimage, and fasting (Appiah 39).

Comprehending convictions through the expansion of distinctive schools of practice, ritual, and thought assists individuals to apprehend the religion in a manner that appreciates it as an ethnical value structure.  What may seem as unifying in the post-modern world, can actually result in a more dwindling of the religious conviction. This can be viewed as a transformation of religious conviction. Nevertheless, it also demonstrates the manner in which secular ideals can dilute and ruin religious diversity by presenting all notions in a superstore of options, where all viewpoints are packaged and vended in the same manner to anyone. Yet nobody cares what is inside the box (Appiah 40).

Traditional religious conviction systems encompass primitive, feudal, and even prehistoric features of cultural custom with Buddhist doctrines, the Vedas, with the Bible tracing back to the initial days of documented history. The modern lifestyle has radically changed with the introduction of information technology, mass-transportation, all of the developments of the Western world, and economic progress (Goodman and Kramer 25).  Religious dogmas emanate from a different age in time. They have different rapidity, they correlate to a distinct form of ethnic expression, and, nevertheless, they are intended to train and perfect the necessary characteristics of a human being.

The masters of devout ethnicities emerged historically as prophets, saints, yogis, imams, bodhisattvas, and teachers. These leaders attained comprehension of truth and knowledge, which is presented in tales about gods, goddesses, and mythology in the religious custom.  For people these characters materialize similarly to the story of Santa Claus. Rituals or references to mythology of Greek are viewed as quaint, acknowledged, and practiced ethnically, and used to express distinctiveness, as Anthony remarks centrally.  Nevertheless, one can probe whether or not this multicultural understanding of religion does justice to the notions that were imparted by its supreme teachers like Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and Moses as means to ultimate verity (Goodman and  Kramer 43).

Appiah notes that the conservatives habitually make their case by viewing ethnic imperialism as being evil.  Their fundamental belief lies in the notion that there is a society organization of capitalism, which has a midpoint and a fringe. Europe is viewed as the center and the United States is a set of cosmopolitan conglomerates.  Several of these are in the field of media business.  The goods they vend around the globe promote the formation of yearnings that can be satisfied only by buying and using of their goods.  They do this via publicizing and via the messages contained in television drama and movies (Hicks 18).

Again, Appiah presents the outlook of those who view ethnic imperialism as malicious, and this is the basis of his argument in The Case for Contamination.  These outlooks are untrue in his opinion. Globalization conveys both positive and negative things to all individuals worldwide.  Hence, it is inappropriate to judge condescendingly what individuals are to trust, by what means they are to operate, or how they can even postulate to administer cultural advancement.

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