Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Outsiders Looking In

Today in class we talked about how both the outsiders in Harry Harrison's "The Streets of Ashkelon" are unable to really connect with the alien society.

I feel as if this concept always applies when one visits a foreign land or culture. Can one ever really go into a new culture with a completely open and unbiased mind? Or will the native customs and mannerisms always stay with one throughout his or her life? In the case of the short story, Father Mark takes a patronizing approach to the amphibians on the planet. However, I have to question why he takes this approach...why does he feel that his intelligence is superior to the alien's? Father Mark holds the belief that he must educate the aliens with the word of God, but he never leaves any opening for them to decline his belief. Obviously other cultures hold different beliefs, but who decides one belief or moral is right over another? On the other hand, Garth, the other main character of the story takes a disconneccted approach to the aliens. At first I thought Garth was respecting the beliefs of the aliens. However, the reality is that Garth does not even attempt to learn from the aliens. He sets himself apart and does not acclimate himself to the native customs, because he believes that his standard of living is superior. Garth and Father Mark butt heads, but in reality they are exactly alike. Both of the men need to realize that they need to learn from the alien culture, as much as they need to teach the aliens.

I feel that this concept would be good for society. Everyone always seems to be trying to trump one another. When there is no need. People should listen to one another and share as much as they recieve. Only through this method can any foreigner really benefit from visiting another society.

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