This past Sunday, my sermon was on how building deep relationships might help us create a world that works for everyone. There was one part I did not get to in that sermon. I would love to share it with you here.
A few years ago, I started hearing the phrase “cultural humility” especially in relationship to the term “cultural competency”. For those unfamiliar with these terms, I’ll offer my own understanding of them. Cultural competency is the idea that we should understand someone else’s culture so that we might interact with them respectfully. Cultural humility is realizing that we don’t know everything about someone else’s culture and experience, we are open to listening and understanding, and we work to be aware of our own experience and bias so we might better understand what are the experiences and stories we don’t understand.
Cultural competency is not a bad thing. At it’s best, it can be the attempt to make a space more welcoming for people by understanding their experiences and practices. But, cultural competency can also give the illusion that we have figured everything out and no longer need to learn beyond the experiences we currently understand.
I know that I do not know everything about anything!
To me, cultural humility is necessary if our aim is to build relationships and community. We need to be ready to listen and learn about a person’s experiences while building relationships and communities. We need to be open to understanding and know that we will find opportunities to grow. In my opinion, cultural humility helps us remember that a person has identities that may impact how they experience life while also being an individual human being with their own opinions, thoughts, and feelings.