Ethnocentrism and Environmentalism
“Ethnocentrism is the term anthropologists use to describe the opinion that one’s own way of life is natural or correct, indeed the only way of being fully human.” Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition. Schultz and Lavenda.
“Cultural Relativism: understanding another culture in its own terms sympathetically enough so that the culture appears to be a coherent and meaningful design for living.” Ibid.
Environmental awareness is a cultural phenomenon and a new way of life for many Americans. It truly has become much more than a few eccentrics, hippies, and others on the fringes of society. It is a growing and powerful segment of American thought, culture and economics.
Speaking from the Environmentalists’ point of view, it is important to remember we have a responsibility to not make the assumption that anyone who is not terribly interested in the health of our earth is a ‘bad’ person. This assumption falls directly into the parameters of the definition of ethnocentrism. Everyone has personal choices to make for themselves, and it unfair to infringe on that right. Rather, we should strive to be sources of true and reliable information. Even the assumption that someone is ‘uninformed’ is ethnocentric- to assume that they just haven’t gotten the memo yet. Believe me, the ‘green’ movement is so pervasive that no one can ignore it. Be helpful to those who are interested, while continuing to strive to do more of what you can, and remember to not be ‘pushy’ with the subject. Being green is a lifestyle choice, and mandated by nothing other than our own private ethics.