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Catholic Culture vs. Deaf Culture

Cultures define humans because they dictate how a group conducts its activities and how its members interact based on beliefs and traditions. Although in some instances an individual has the liberty to decide whether to belong to a particular culture or not, it is not always the case. For instance, no one chooses to be deaf and related to the community of people with hearing impairment. On the other hand, belonging to the Catholic culture is a choice not determined by the fact that I was born in a family that appreciates its religious traditions. Nonetheless, the two entities bear similarities and differences which demonstrate the constituents of culture.

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The Catholic culture is recognized globally because it has existed for ages. Historically, its establishment can be traced to the 1st century during Jesus Christ’s existence and the rule of the Roman Empire (Isacco et al. 330). One distinct characteristic of the catholic culture is that it has an elaborate organizational structure headed by the papacy, which regularly gives directives to the members. The group has distinct traits, beliefs and norms which guide its behavior. For instance, similarly to other Christians, the Catholics believe in Christ as the Messiah (Isacco et al. 330). However, the differentiating factor is that they also pray to Mary the mother of Jesus who intercedes to God on their behalf. Additionally, the Pope, who is the religious leader and a representative of God’s authority on earth, thus being crucial in making important decisions. Other traditions include attending the mass every Sunday, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday celebrations, and the belief in the immortality of the soul. All the abovementioned traits and practices are what categorize Catholicism as a culture.

The Catholic culture has a unique set of challenges that affect its members. First, numerous cases of sexual abuse of children have been reported to the church leadership. Such unlawful acts are often perpetrated by priests, which questions ethics among these members of the clergy (Boyette). Another common and controversial issue is the Catholic stand on abortion. Although the community condemns and casts out anyone involved in the act, it allows for forgiveness to anyone who repents. I have a personal connection with Catholicism because I was born in the culture and I have practiced its traditions all my life.

The deaf culture, on the other hand, focuses on the use of sign language and the interaction among individuals with hearing impairment. The American Sign Language (ASL) has been used across the globe as the standard of communication in groups and can therefore be applied to narrate the culture’s history. The origin of ASL can be traced to 1814 when the first school for the deaf was established in Hartford (Hoffman and Andrews 427). The main trait of the community is language, which is a unifying factor among its members in all regions. Although the deaf cannot speak normally, they are comfortable and enjoy using signs to communicate. Some common values of the deaf culture include respect for one another, accepting the condition as normal, and highly regarding deaf babies. Additionally, there are shared practices and behaviors such as physical touch, eye contact, and thumping of floors used to gain and maintain attention. Moreover, unlike other people, the deaf always takes more time to know each other for the first time and also require longer goodbyes. Even though this group is considered disabled, the shared values and customs are what classifies it as a culture.

The members of the deaf culture similarly encounter various contemporary challenges. The main problem individuals with hearing impairments face are discrimination. For instance, in workplaces, they are viewed as weak, slow, and less productive, which is not always the case (Martell). The deaf is equally intelligent and capable, all they need are specialized equipment that can help them participate effectively. Moreover, there are few interpreters and translators, which has created a barrier between the deaf and individuals who can hear well. I have friends and family members with hearing impairments, and interaction with them has made me identify personally with the deaf culture.

Consequently, there are similarities and differences between Catholicism and the deaf culture. There are no major resemblances between the two but they both give the members pride and a sense of belonging. Individuals with hearing impairment do not consider themselves disabled but different (Hoffman and Andrews 426). Similarly, I have a unique identity based on spiritual doctrines defined by Catholic beliefs and traditions. The difference between the two societies is that the values of the deaf culture are a result of the need to improve interactions, while Catholicism is a religious culture grounded on faith. Even though the two entities are different, the fact that they both have a history and bring people together identifies them as cultures.

Everybody belongs to a particular culture because, without it, it is impossible to live in harmony. Consequently, the deaf also has a culture embedded in the sign language and the appreciation of their members. Although it is different from Catholicism because the latter is based on faith and regular worship rituals, they both involve people with shared values and traditions. Additionally, the two have a unique set of challenges based on their principles. Nonetheless, the Catholics and the deaf have beliefs, norms, and characteristics that unite them as cultures.

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Works Cited

Boyette, Chris. “What the Pope has Said on Key Issues Facing the Church – CNN”. CNN, 2015, Web.

Hoffman, Dan, and Jean F. Andrews. “Why Deaf Culture Matters In Deaf Education”. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, vol. 21, no. 4, 2016, pp. 426-427.

Isacco, Anthony, et al. “How Religious Beliefs and Practices Influence the Psychological Health of Catholic Priests”. American Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 10, no. 4, 2015, pp. 325-337.

Martell, Angie. “Understanding The Injustices Faced By The Deaf Community”. Iglesiamartell, 2021, Web.

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