Research Papers

Humiliation and Human Rights in Diverse Societies: Forgiveness & Other Solutions from Cross-Cultural Research – Dharm P. S. Bhawuk


Living in a multicultural society like the United States leads to sampling a range of experiences that vary from being extremely delightful to excessively stressful, with many types of experiences in between. I present cases of positive experiences of immigrants that provide positive feelings of freedom, equality, fairness, and due process. I also discuss negative experiences of minorities that vary from having their names mispronounced and their accent criticized to outright racial discrimination and hate crimes. How should the individuals navigate through this minefield of humiliating experiences? I present four theoretically meaningful strategies – Learning to Make Isomorphic Attributions, Learning to Extract Help from the System, Developing a Shared Network, and Using the Acculturating Strategy of Integration – that are derived from cross-cultural research that may help a society’s minority members to maintain human dignity in a multicultural society without feeling excessively cynical. I conclude the paper with a suggestion that, perhaps, we need to use our spiritual strength in dealing with humiliating situations and that forgiveness is the ultimate ointment, which allows us to heal from the wounds of humiliation.

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