American Mosaic: African American Muslim Couple

American Mosaic: African American Muslim Couple

Since it's founding, the United States has been both a "melting pot", and a "cultural mosaic". The American Mosaic series of posts attempt to capture the interweave of American society.

The "Mapping Courage" mural made for a nice backdrop for this candid street snap. Philadelphia is among the most diverse and culturally rich cities in the United States. Modern and historic, visually interesting, colorful, and diverse, it is a photographer's heaven.

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting discussion about the indispensability of cultural diversity with a friend of mine. Biologically, as a species, we thrive because of biodiversity. Collectively, species need each other to survive. Similarly, history has proven, time and time again, that diversity and exchange is essential for human progress. In the "When Ideas Have Sex" TED Talk, Matt Ridley convincingly argues this same point from an economics perspective. So, why do some of us fear cultural diversity, while others embrace it?

This question has troubled many minds. The first thing that comes to mind is social conditioning. We develop different values, expectations and fears through the influence of our society, religion and family. Our personal experiences are, more often than not, limited to confirming our current, preestablished worldview. We all have a tendency to emotionalize our outlook, and most of the time we are driven by emotion, rather than by facts or reason. We are invariably programmed to believe in our own moral superiority. Even the liberals among us, those who proclaim to be open to diversity and experience, have a high tendency to be selective. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines this point in his TED Talk, "The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives".

Song of the Day: Start Wearing Purple - Gogol Bordello (2006)
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