Close your Eyes
Close your Eyes and imagine. Covered in dark clothing, your eyes are down-cast. As a young girl, you are taught never to make eye contact with men! The rules are very strict connected to religious law and therefore eye contact is very inappropriate in Middle Eastern Cultures.
Similarly a daughter may politely drop her head looking downward as her father is speaking to her. Even as a student she is forbidden to make eye contact with a teacher or professor. In a society where hierarchies are very visible, subordinates are never allowed to make eye contact with their superiors. In Asian cultures, lack of eye contact demonstrates politeness and respect. Looking someone in the eye could be considered pushy or be interpreted as invasion of privacy.
Imagine you are an American woman bartering with someone at a mercado or mark without making eye contact as it is seen as very aggressive and confrontational. In Latin American and African cultures, too much looking is considered giving the evil eye and is deemed intrusive.
Now, … Open your Eyes. You have excitedly sat next to your best girlfriend anxious for social interaction as you never lose eye contact. In Western culture, it is a learned behavior to meet everyone eye to eye showing interest and respect. To NOT make eye contact confirms a lack of self-confidence or deception or in the case of wandering eyes, he is just not that into you?
Even as a little girl I was made aware of cultural diversities as I lived in a small sea port in Japan. Their style of living was so different, from housing to clothing to ways of eating, and peculiar to me was in trying to have a conversation. I would look into their eyes and be rebuffed by them as they turned away from me.
Culture sets standards for what is acceptable behavior within a community and diversity refers to individual differences. Both exist hand in hand in society. People from diverse cultures bring a different way of looking and seeing, making the world a more interesting place to live.
I am always curious how others come to the same conclusion but in a different way. It helps me to denote their differences but in essence it helps me to focus on what we have in common.
I Love to close my eyes and recall the different cultural diversities I encountered as I travel to different parts of the world, never bored. I have this great sense of enrichment as I am always mindful with a watchful eye what is considered rude or in some cases, peculiar, to what is respectful. Thankfully, I have never been thrown out of a restaurant!