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The Divide: Social Barriers between Worlds

Updated on November 24, 2014

There are differences that divide us which make it difficult to communicate, let alone see eye-to-eye. The language barrier is perhaps the easiest to overcome, but accents may still trip us up and get in our way. This may bleed into our social differences, but it's more likely our financial differences that separate us the most. At the very least it is something we can educate ourselves about rather than a genetically-engineered inevitability.

Learning a foreign language may be difficult, especially without opportunities to use it. Just as writing an essay is like piecing together a puzzle, learning a language on paper is quite similar to algebra (i.e. plugging in x for y). Even after you have mastered a second (or third or fourth) language, you may still have a rather thick accent. If you are difficult to understand or can't understand the speech of others, this is a communications nightmare. Speakers of the same native language often have different accents and might sometimes have trouble understanding each other as well, so we shouldn't feel too bad when this happens. However, we are often made to feel worse about ourselves for just such a reason. In America, we are pretty tolerant of accents; we love them, in fact. Unfortunately, not many other countries seem to, as an American speaking the language of a nation foreign to them will often be berated for their American accent. Whether this is based on a reaction to the American culture or because Americans might not be as good at learning foreign languages, I cannot say. Regardless, if this were the only problem facing our multicultural society, then we'd be pretty darn lucky. In reality, we have much bigger problems than the Tower of Babel.


In "99-to-1," I discussed the issue of the rich-poor divide in regard to education and job opportunities, comparing today's market to that of Dickensian England. Assuming there are jobs to be had, people of different social classes can be expected to have different types of jobs that support their lifestyles. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that with the vast majority of jobs being retail positions to support our large population, most of the people who tend to work in that field are lower-to-middle class. Not everyone stays there forever, but those that do fall into that category. There are jobs that no one wants to do, yet they must be done. As I also discussed in my Hub about utilitarianism, the demands of the market often outweigh the ambitions of the individual. This is not a reason for those who are well-off to look down upon and insult those of us who find ourselves in this position; no one is better or more entitled than anyone else. There are certainly those who are born into a certain caste and trained to take on the family business (whether big or small), but upward and downward mobility do exist to a degree.

Caste systems are considered an ancient way of thinking, although the idea is not an alien one today. In the utopian novel Brave New World, the caste system is reinforced (or rather perpetrated) by genetic engineering. This perpetuates the myth that those of lower intelligence fall into the lower class jobs for their entire lives while society is run by the elites. The Homestuck trolls are organized this way by their blood color, but that doesn't define their abilities or personalities, just what is expected of them. They mainly interact with each other as normal until someone's bloodlust makes them snap and kill the others. (The trolls are collectively terrible, but most of them want to be better.)

To sum up, the language barrier is the least of our worries when it comes to the social issues that divide us all. In the end, it all comes down to what you and your immediate family do for a living and how much money you make doing it. Rather than judge each other by these criteria, we should just worry about our own budgets and leave it at that. As the saying goes, none of it will matter once we are dead.

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    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Hi Sarah the topic is sensitive in the sense it deals with social hierarchy, your handling of it equally suits to its nature. Its irony that we tend to divide people on the bases of many a social aspects over which, to be honest, we have no command. I can't say that its my will that I have born where am I today, similarly same proclamation can't be true about the language I speak. Things are clear the matter over which we have no command can't become a benchmark to distuinguish ourselves with others. The statuses we achieve can be a matter of pride as they all due to our own efforts but in this case too, the one who fears his Creator will never distuinguish human on different bases. Be good to yourselves and others and perform good deeds, then its left to your God to decide your fate which can't be apparent unless the soul departs from this world. So when our ultimate-fate is unknown and we all are equal in this regard with rest of the human beings, why a sense of supremacy then? And what far upper and lower feelings? Isn't a mirage that such humans live with their eyes closed and hearts locked? The nobility of both individual and groups rest with their characters and in no way degradation of humans or ill feelings about them can be termed as a nobility of an individual or group. This is what I can make it out from your write. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.