Sunday, April 26, 2009

Discussion #10

What commonalities among all the religions can you perceive?
What was one new thing you learned from the film about another particular religion or religious leader?
What do you think the value of understanding other religions is?

After watching the film on the various religious leaders it seems like religion focuses on bettering people for the common good of humanity and life. One of the leaders in the video mentions how religion is a source of great compassion to humanity. We see this as religion helps people to understand life and how to live it. With Buddhism, their religion focuses on how they can change their behavior to have a good life and be happy. Some religions have religious text that provide valuable information or readings that help guide people's behavior. The video mentions how the clergy or religious leaders are there to help guide others and even correct behavior by showing them right from wrong. This is another way for people to better understand life. I think all religions recognize that there is a conflict in life between good and bad and religion helps people to focus on goodness and kindness. Another commonality of religion is the community aspect. I saw in the video how many people come together as a group in different settings, like a churches or temples, to practice their religion.
I learned a lot from the film and was intrigued by a couple of different things. It was interesting to see how the Islamic religious leader would listen to the problems of her people and put herself in their position so that she could understand and essentially feel what they are feeling. This was surprising for me because I haven't really seen a religious leader work with individuals on somewhat of an intimate level before.
There is great value in understanding other religions. There are so many people all over the world that are religious and I think it is important to understand the different religions because many of these people apply it to their life. If we begin understanding these different religions then we can begin understanding and accepting other people. I also think that each religion has something great to offer. If we look into these religions we may find that some religious practices and principles could contribute to a better life on Earth and help with current issues that are happening in the world today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Discussion #9

I think the purpose of marriage is to legally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally unite two people that are in love and committed to each other. I also believe that marriage is an important step that precedes having children. In terms of a family I think “normal” is just having people whether they are blood related or not love, support, and care for one another. My family consists of me, my brother, parents, and relatives. My family’s purpose in my life is to love and care for me, provide for me and help me grow, as well as support me until I’m ready to leave and live independently or whenever I'm in need of it.

This is different from other cultures. It was surprising to see how marriage is used for economic purposes. In the Masai culture, men married many women in order to increase wealth and security. The more women a man married, the more children he could have and the more workers he had to do work. In one of the readings of the Tibetans in Northern Nepal, groups of brothers were married to only one woman. This helped to preserve their family resources and prevent instability. These marriages are also different from my view of marriage because people are allowed to marry more than one person. The arranged marriages of the Bhils in India are different from my view of marriage in that families decide who you marry and you basically have to live with a total stranger. There is no time for dating or building up a relationship, which I think should come before marriage. The approval of lineage mates in an arrange marriage is similar to how families in the US meet up with the family of who their child is marrying to discuss plans of marriage. In both types of marriages, family or lineage is an important part of the process. Another difference I noticed is how in the marriages of India or the Masai culture, women may leave their home to live with their husband and his family. They not only give their self to the husband, but also their labor, loyalty, and children. Men and women in the US have more of a choice of where they want to live and what they want to do. It seems like in the cultures that we learned about, there are a lot of rules or expectations for what a family has to do or how to behave but in the US there is more choice. The diversity in how people view sexuality, marriage, and family did not surprise me because there is already a lot of differences here in the US alone so I figured there would be even more throughout the whole world. Many cultures have their own ways of doing things and I have realized that different things work for different people because we are not the same.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Discussion #8

One of the similarities in gender of our society and the Masai is that woman do a lot of “caring work.” In the Masai video we see how women care for their children and the husband’s cattle and they do household chores. In our society women mostly are the ones who take care of children and do household work. Women in the Masai seem to not have as much of a freedom in what they do. They have to attach to a male and have children in order to have a good life. Males in that society receive status through having many wives and children and large land. In the US males achieve status through wealth and their occupation. Women have more freedom in what they do instead of being forced to marry.

There is value in having genders in that roles are different and so there is variety in who does what. Traditionally, men have specific roles and women have other roles so they know what their job is. One of the challenges in gender is dealing with inequality. One gender may be seen as more “dominating” and therefore causing people to be upset. Another problem with this is that not everyone wants to stick to those roles. We see this as roles in the US change. In the article of Global Women in the New Economy, more women are joining the workforce. The problem with this is that as both males and females are in the workforce, the issue of who takes care of the children arises. Children are having to be cared for by people other than the parents. For the Masai culture, if for example the women were given more or different rights, then their original roles would need to be fulfilled by someone else.

There are times when cultural worldviews about gender tie in to human rights. Many times in various cultures, women are treated unfairly and unequally. We see this in the Masai culture as men are allowed to beat their wives and not given much choice. It is difficult to say if something can be done in cultures where there is gender inequality. Sometimes people in cultures of gender inequality accept it. To use the Masai culture again as an example, women accept gender stratification as a result of women’s mistakes in the past. They blame their given role and decreased rights or abilities in their society on the women who neglected their herd long ago. I don’t think others can tell people of other cultures what’s wrong or right so cultures should make the decision to change on their own. When inequality exists and becomes a major problem for the majority of the population, then something really needs to be done.