Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Religion and Personal Culture influence the way I relate and communicate with other people

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I have had the chance to follow Pope Francis from the day he ascended to Papacy and I embraced his philosophy of: making opportunities available even to those were previously shunned.The Pope says that we should walk together and that we should not exclude anyone (Maike Hickson. 2016). I respected the Pope when he realized that he was not going to make impacting change within the Roman Catholic Church if he himself could not sacrifice or do away with some of the cultures of the Church that are a show off of splendid regalia bedecked with gold but impotent in feeding the hungry or housing the homeless. The Roman Catholic religion played a key role in education, invention, art, architecture and socialism. However, as an institution it is also looked upon, copied as well as vilified by many. The Pope and the way he has dealt with criticism is what fascinates me. His mature approach and readiness to face issues as they present themselves is what I am going to write about. Examples that come to mind include: the hosting of the Syrian refugees who saw themselves as moslems first and humans second. Yet, the Pope saw human beings with needs like any other and provided them opportunities for a shelter at Sant’Egidio (Paula Cocozza. 2016). Having lunch at the Casa Santa Marta, the hotel on Vatican grounds where Francis resides with 21 Syrian refugees (Crux Staff. 2016) is another example. The present crises of displacement, environmental catastrophes, famine, wars and poverty are some of the issues the Pope is tackling. His pronouncements on issues like Climate change have galvanized many  to do something. Pope Francis’s  in his encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, says that climate change is real and mainly “a result of human activity” (Pope Francis Encyclical and Climate Change). As far as world views go, the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and the family has reared its head again with many questions are being raised around it. Can remarried divorcees be married in two valid marriages at the same time? The Amoris Laetitia, is a letter the Pope wrote in which he explained why the Church should let divorced but remarried Roman Catholics play major roles in the Church. It is claimed that the letter leaves open the answer to this crucial question that it itself has provoked. The letter points out Non-sacramental, natural marriage can also be, in the eyes of the Church, a valid marriage, for example in the case of a mixed marriage. This has brought about a rift even far deeper than that caused when the Pope mentioned homosexuality in the same breath with forgiving. Many feel a betrayal and that the pope may be personally virtuous, but he is naive and a wicked antipope carrying on in positions of authority and influence (akaCatholic). Others, have taken a go slow approach that allows the Pope to make decisions as the Spiritual Head of the Roman Catholic Church (Maike Hickson.2016). Pope Francis affirms mercy and love. He said that unity is created on the move because unity is a grace we need to ask for. The Gospel shifts the axis of Christianity away from a certain kind of legalism which can be ideological, towards the Person of God, who became mercy through the incarnation of the Son (Pope Francis). The burning issues that are sure to have impact on a world view are: position of the Pope on his apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia”; church’s ban on communion for divorced Catholics in new (and adulterous) marriages; and church’s traditional opposition to situation ethics (Ross Douthat. 2016). Religion has influenced the way I position myself and my spirituality. Religion improved on my culture positions and it affirmed my work ethics and relationships with other people. Because I believe relationships are a means of communication, I dare say  the synergy of my personal culture and religion influence the way I relate and communicate with other people.

akaCatholic. BREAKING: Francis responds to the dubia. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Paula Cocozza. 2016. What happened to the 12 Syrian refugees rescued by the pope? Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Crux Staff. 2016. Pope has lunch with Syrian refugees he brought to Rome. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Maike Hickson. 2016. Confusion, Conflict, and Chaos Increase in the Wake of the Dubia. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Maike Hickson. 2016. Cardinal Hummes: On the Dubia, “The Whole College of Cardinals is With” the Pope. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Pope Francis. La Stampa. Francis:“The Church is not a football team in search of fans”. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016. 

Pope Francis Encyclical and Climate Change.Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.  

Ross Douthat. 2016. His Holiness Declines to Answer. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016. 

My personal culture informs my communication choices

My story is one of an immigrant and I kindly ask you to look at it from that lens. For me communication is not only verbal but also how one meshes or embeds in another culture. It is a deliberate negotiation in relation to one’s ethnic identity. It is a move toward engaging in cultural allegiances. It is an ongoing education that allows one to break into newer patterns of life (Tywoniak, F. E., & García, M. T. 2000).   I have lived in USA for quite some time now. As someone who chose to emigrate to this country, my priority needs were to assimilate, survive and seek subsistence here. I learnt at an earlier time reading notices, brochures and information from the State Department and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (actually, I still look for any information on immigration and settlement in USA even today). This desire to  use existing literature to make informed decisions which A. L Kennedy calls “a tradition of fierce education and enlightenment” helped me figure out my requirements beyond proper documentation, e.g., Lawful Permanent Residency Visa (Green Card); proper immunizations; Social Security; Work Permits; and Identity Card. Without these it is hard to set foot out one’s house, or get proper employment and interact with other people. The needs for someone who has only lived here for say under a year, are different from those of one who has lived here beyond a year. They are also different from those of a person who is still undocumented and is always looking at their back for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers!  In my earlier years I had to find time to attend seminars and courses for refugees and immigrants. I wanted to immerse myself fully and hoped to achieve that through guidance of a do’s/dont’s list. I had my challenges too. These included: dressing down to casuals; figuring out the bus route and later on the train route; speaking even more slowly (because I was told I spoke a different kind of English); learning to go out; understanding the U.S. nuanced coffee culture as opposed to my own culture; and almost over indulging myself with Kentucky Fried Chicken, tasty burgers and sugary-drinks (something I later unlearnt). I would say, ensuring I lead a productive life in USA; where I am able to live peacefully at my place, pay rent/other dues; seek out and make friends; join community events; and participate in activities with others have become my belief, value and norm milieu. Indeed, I agree that intercultural communication can be seen as a negotiation of competing values, beliefs and norms (Week 1 Discussion). Sovereign countries have laws and codes that must be followed. But, those very countries also have cultures that are older than the sovereigns themselves. A.L Kennedy, in her essay, shows clearly the existence of Scots, Welsh, Irish and English cultures in Great Britain. In making the statement “I am Scot” now and not so many years ago shows how much the Scots wanted to  be part of and participate in a Great Britain owned by all who made it. I come from a country that was a former colony of Great Britain and I feel A.L. Kennedy is talking about an experience I knew so well from hearing fire side stories narrated by cultural elders. Now that I came across books and documents illuminating a reader on Britain’s divide and rule; subjugation of peoples (referred to as ‘uncultured’ in most correspondences. Meanwhile they were loading ships with gold, diamond, iron, copper, cotton and coffee and sending them back to UK in the name of Queen and Country); and raw material extraction policies in Colonial Africa, I can corroborate what she writes. I come from Buganda Kingdom which is part of Uganda. My tribe is part of 56 tribes that make up Uganda as a nation. We are both a matrilineal and patrilineal culture. As a first born boy, there things expected of me in form of responsibilities, duties and roles. But, now that I am in USA, all that changed. Right now, all that matters is to be a better participant in USA affairs. There in lies all the tasks that face me.


A. L. Kennedy. 2012. “People will laugh at you if you sound like that.” Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016. 

Tywoniak, F. E., & García, M. T. (2000). Migrant daughter: Coming of age as a Mexican American woman. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

Week 1 Discussion. Discussion 1: A Fish Out of Water: Cultural Transmission and Worldview. Retrieved from: Retrieved on November 29th 2016.