Ethnocentric, derived from the Greek words of Ethnos, meaningrace, people or cultural group, and Kentrikos, meaning concentratedabout or directed to a center is a word that greatly describes manycultures on this planet we call Earth . The official definition ofEthnocentric is ” characterized or based on the attitude that ones owngroup is superior” or “having race as a central interest”. There is a wholeworld of problems, politics, and, other cultures, but it seems that theaverage American’s only interest is that of themselves. The reason I choseto focus more on the American being ethnocentric is because I have beenexposed the most to this culture. Why is it that in most foreign countries being knowledgeableabout world politics is just as important as their own culture’s politics?America is the melting pot of the world with so many different culturesand we accept this variety into our country as we were accepted when ourancestors came over. Today I feel that people are arrogant towards thoseforeigners who don’t wash away their former demeanor.
Why don’t werealize that we are so lucky to live in a secure and free country that shouldglorify diversity and not promote prejudice. When we make contact withpeople whose beliefs and cultural tradition challenge our own perspectivemost feel some sort of intimidation. Professor Michael Bond from SimonFraser University quoted:the mere existence of different others is inherentlythreatening because they either implicitly or explicitlychallenge the absolute validity of one’s own perspective. According to this analysis, prejudice is a psychologicalinability to tolerate the existence of different others andresults from a need to maintain absolute faith in one’s owncultural world view”. Ethnocentrism in my opinion is very ignorant, unintelligent, and closedminded in that your normal rituals may seem just as strange to othercultures, but are seen by them in a more understanding way. Ethnocentrism has been instilled in us since birth, learning toattach our selves to our cultural groups depending on them for comfortand a sense of safety.
Piaget’s theory on child development states that achild believes he is the center of the universe until he learns to “de-center”himself, i. e. , he realizes that the world can be constructed from a numberof different perspectives. This is when the child starts to care for othersand takes a better understanding of respect and friendliness towardsthem.
People as a whole in a way have to “de-center” their strongcultural beliefs, as well as the thought that their culture is the only oneimportant enough to concern themselves with. American sociologist,political economist and the originator of the term ethnocentric, WilliamGraham Sumner, in 1904 defined ethnocentrism as :the view of things in which one’s own group is the center ofeverything and all others are scaled and rated, inreference to one’s group. Each group thinks that its ownfolkways are the only right ones. And if it observes that otherpeople have other folkways, these excite its scorn. Ethnocentrism may manifest itself in behavior such as warfare,attitudes of superiority, hostility, violence, discrimination, and verbalaggression.
In the past, groups such as the Nazi’s, the Crusaders and, theMuslims have waged wars and death over cultural and religiousdifferences using ethnocentrism as there incentive. Hate groups are alsoformed on this notion believing that their religious or cultural group issuperior to others when in reality their customs are simply different.I realize that we are all ethnocentric to varying degrees becausewe are born into a culture at birth and we cling to that culture as a