Reflections on Amy Chua’s “A World on the Edge”
When I read about Amy Chua’s article regarding the horrible murder of her aunt in the Philippines, I felt sad for her because she said she was close to her. I could commiserate with her because when somebody close to us dies, we all feel upset. In fact, it is three times more painful for her because her Aunt Leona was murdered by her servant.
I was disheartened to know that there are injustices like the one Chua described in her article. Around the world, I realized that people involve themselves to violence against each other. I am agreeing with Amy Chua that these free-market democracies had triggered the onslaught of political and social violence in “developing and postcommunist worlds”.
Also, I am agreeing with what Chua described “the phenomenon of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for widely varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically, often to a startling extent, the ‘indigenous’ majorities around them”. She cited many instances of unspeakable violence that had sprouted from the indifference of the ethnic majority to the market-dominant minorities. One of the problems I could relate to this fact is the multiculturalism in America. Sometimes cultural pluralism is used simply to describe the fact that cultural diversity exists in our society. Yet, trouble might be brewing because minorities in America might just be the easy target of the majority.
I believe that the demand for cultural pluralism in America is based partly on the belief that it is inherent to democracy. Yet, the meaning of cultural pluralism — its social, political, and educational implications; or its alleged connections with democracy – had not been understood by all people. Clearly, the kind of cultural pluralism believed to be consistent with democracy is much more than the separate and independent existence of different ethnic groups without any contact between institutions or individuals. Rather, it is an ideal that seeks to establish and encourage not only cultural diversity but also a basis of unity from which America can become a cohesive society enriched by shared, widely divergent ethnic experiences. Hence, I think we should support multiculturalism in society based on the belief in equality of opportunity for all people, respect for human dignity, and the conviction that no single pattern of living is good for everyone.
Actually, I felt bad about the “murder”, but I think Aunt Leona was so mean to her employees, or as she referred to them as “servants”. She even considered ethnic Filipinos as “lazy” or “not intelligent”. As I emphasized above, all troubles emerge when people think other people are “inferior” to them. I am not saying that Aunt Leona deserved her death, but rather if only she treated her “servants” as her equals, she might not have gained the ire of her murderer.
This is why I support the belief we should be treating all people as our equals, regardless of their color, age, sex or status. As the world is becoming more global, people must be educated about multiculturalism. People must be aware that cultural pluralism must include the belief that, in the coexistence of people with diverse cultural backgrounds, to be different is not to be inferior. If only we all affirm to the worth of cultural diversity, people will be attesting to the positive value of individuals with varied cultural heritages and perspectives. Then, no social violence like what happened to Aunt Leona will happen again because we value people as individuals, not as inferiors.
Chua, Amy. “A World on the Edge”. In Miller, Richard E. and Spellmeyer Kurt. The New Humanities Reader. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. 102-117.