“Culture is the name for what people are interested in, their thoughts, their models, the books they read and the speeches they hear.” – Walter Lippmann
Living in this integrated space where individual identities are often blurred because of the clutter that is globalization, we do not stop to think about how far our culture plays a role in peace and conflict resolution. Wherever we are born or are living right now, we see things, hear things, and feel things that are shaping who we are. These cultural dimensions are so ingrained in our being that it becomes difficult for us to notice how much they are affecting how we treat others who do not belong in our cultural dimension.
The infinite wealth of the cultures of the world has undoubtedly paved a path to the core of peacebuilding – it is an integral part of conflict resolution. Therefore, the most important question that arises is how best do we use culture as part of conflict resolution when confronted with violence of any kind?
The answer lies in cultural fluency.
“Cultural fluency means familiarity with cultures: their natures, how they work, and ways they intertwine with our relationships in times of conflict and harmony.”
The awareness of several dimensions of culture is the first step to achieving cultural fluency. This is done by open communication, understanding the ways of meaning-making, and analyzing the identities and roles specified in the cultures under question. Only when a person is conscious about these aspects can they accurately name, frame, and tame a conflict.
Once cultural fluency is achieved, the use of cultural-sensitive terms becomes the basis of dispute management. Whether it is at the national level, local level, or at the household level, using terminology that is acceptable by the conflicting cultures will help to form new identities and develop a sense of inclusion.
Educational institutions can play a major role in helping to integrate cultural fluency in the early stages. The activities that acknowledge diversity and have a human rights-based method do go a long way in building tolerance towards different cultures. The common space achieved in these public institutions can be used for dialogue sharing which is then translated into meaningful solutions.
At a higher level, cultural fluency should be made a part of all forms of development activities, projects, and events. This will pave a path where individuals can freely participate in cultural life and have open access to their cultural assets and eventually live in a peaceful state. Once a mutual understanding between cultures is achieved, conflict resolution will definitely become simpler.