Beyond Illiteracy: Cultural Illiteracy

The-New-Dictionary-of-Cultural-Literacy-9780618226474Sure the average American can read a newspaper. But do they have the curiosity or the open mindedness to read about foreign cultures? Of course the word foreign here is used loosely as, given the diversity of cultures represented in the American population, foreign should not really be foreign to any American anymore.

What I’m saying is: If you’re not learning about “foreign” cultures then you don’t have any idea what many of your neighbors believe in or care about. How can America truly be a “melting pot” if the average American refuses to melt into it?

To say what is truly American has to now mean what do we know about the ever-widening cross-section of diverse cultures in our midst. There is no longer the excuse that we haven’t traveled abroad, therefore we don’t know or understand the outside world. The outside world has come to our doorstep. Will we choose to open the door and let them in or will we draw the blinds and pretend we’re not home like so many recluses who refuse to hand out candy on Halloween?

With the advent of the internet and doing simple google searches, we no longer have the excuse of simple and convenient ignorance. It’s all right there at your fingertips and the excuse of being ill-traveled is no excuse at all.

American ambassadors may have opened doors to the outside world, but has the average American opened their minds to it? If Americans were half as interested in cultural literacy as they are childishly titillated by homosexuality, we’d be getting somewhere.


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