Is Cultural Intelligence (CQ) the Real Secret to World Peace?
It is quite impressive what we humans have accomplished in our history.
We have the ability to construct bodily organs, kill germs with antibiotics, and even walk on the moon. And experts claim our innovation will grow exponentially in the coming decades.
Yet 1.3 billion people, roughly 22% of the world’s entire population, live in multidimensional poverty¹. This includes families who have incomes above the poverty line, but they still lack necessities like clean water, electricity, or clean toilets.
Also, during the 20th century, when human knowledge reached new highs, we witnessed a sickening number of world genocides². And if that wasn’t enough, the same century was also plagued with countless wars³ — which now seem to be perpetual on our planet.
Can higher IQs serve the human condition?
If humans are getting so intelligent, then why can’t we relieve the suffering?
Does having a high IQ mean having less tolerance for others? Does it mean that as we get smarter, knowledge displaces empathy in our character?
Many believe that influential and ambitious leaders are exploiting those who have the intelligence. They often point to the creation of the atomic bomb as an example. In this case, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is often called the “Father of the Atomic Bomb,” and was vehemently opposed to its use in the Second World War⁴.
Perhaps goal-oriented high performers ignore difficult problems for fear of having a blemish on their record. When this happens, the problem only gets worse — and then they blame their political opponents. We have all witnessed this firsthand.
Two basic viewpoints
To bolster one’s cultural intelligence (CQ), one must first understand the two essential viewpoints among the world’s cultures. Those two viewpoints are collectivism and individualism.
While there are countless labels and definitions for ideologies, economies, and governments, their basis usually comes from one of these two perspectives.
Individualism places a high value on people’s ability and logic to think for themselves and pursue their own goals. They believe that individual freedoms must be protected above all.
An individualist culture usually lives at a fast pace. There is little distinction between social groups as people are free to socialize among many various groups. Marriages in these societies are based almost entirely on love.
Collectivism places a high value on identifying with their particular group or family. Their activities are devoted to family and heritage. They believe that bringing honor to their group is the highest achievement.
A collectivist culture lives at a slower pace. Marriages are based more on how it best serves their group or family, and love has very little significance. Saving face is a guiding force in their interactions with one another.
All about perception
There’s an infinite number of ways that collectivism and individualism are dispersed in a given society. Chances are they are embedded within your social group.
Ask yourself this question: What was the basis for how you voted in the last election?
Was your election choice based on how it affected you (individualism) or how it affected your country (collectivism)? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve voted both ways in the past. But would I have been free to do that in another nation?
Comparing China and Scandinavia is an excellent illustration of how differently these two views are blended into societies. Scandinavia is considered socialist as everyone pays extremely high taxes for the common good, but they have a very individualistic culture. Conversely, China has an economy that is highly privatized, yet they’re one of the world’s most collectivist cultures.
CQ and world peace
As you can see, understanding cultures is not an easy task. The difficulty starts with how we define ideologies and practices. Maybe we shouldn’t concern ourselves with how to define them.
Perhaps world peace depends on how we focus on human needs across the board. While each of us has a limited amount of persuasion, all of us together have enormous power — and it all begins with awareness.
Steps for increasing CQ
Elect the right leaders — If we want CQ awareness, we must elect political leaders who will support that view. This means rather than voting for a particular party; we must look deeper. Frequently, we are unpleasantly surprised by what we discover underneath the surface.
Stay informed —This is a challenging task today as the media has gotten so biased one way or the other. To get a real sense of a given story, try looking at how different news sources report the same event.
Unfortunately, the news media today is focusing more on outrage than on information. So we have to be selective with our news sources.
Enjoy entertainment from other cultures — Watching movies and reading novels about different cultures in the world is a great way to observe their customs. Authors and producers today go to great lengths to provide authenticity in their work, so the accuracy is pretty high.
Visit culturalQ.com — This website features the most current issues taking place in the CQ world. They are looking for talented people to join their cause, and you can even become CQ certified online.
In the end, we must understand that increasing CQ awareness is a process. It will take some time, but the seeds for world peace need to be planted. If each of us is willing to plant them in our little corner of the world today, just think of what tomorrow could look like.
: Andrea Peer. (October 16, 2020). Global poverty: Facts, FAQs, and how to help. https://www.worldvision.org/sponsorship-news-stories/global-poverty-facts.
: Mark Levene. Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? https://www.jstor.org/stable/20078852.
: Jennifer Rosenberg. (January 29, 2020). The Major Wars and Conflicts of the 20th Century. https://www.thoughtco.com/major-wars-and-conflicts-20th-century-1779967.
: Becky Little. (August 31, 2018). “Father of the Atomic Bomb” Was Blacklisted for Opposing H-Bomb. https://www.history.com/news/father-of-the-atomic-bomb-was-blacklisted-for-opposing-h-bomb.