Imagine that you have to move to another country. Do you think it is better to keep your own customs, or to adopt the new country’s customs? Why? Compare these two options. Use specific examples and reasons to explain your answer.
In general, it is desirable for someone moving to another country to respect the customs of that country and try to practice them oneself, whenever doing so is consistent with one’s own convictions. This is only fair, because the newcomer is living in someone else’s home, so to speak, and is expected to follow the rules of the house while there. In certain parts of Asia, for example, it is considered polite to avoid sitting with one’s feet pointed toward another person. It may be considered uncouth to look directly at the person to whom one is talking.
In all these cases, a person who has arrived to live in a particular society is expected to observe such customs. Violating them is usually not a crime, but to ignore them is nonetheless considered insensitive, if not actually insulting.
Where religion is involved, this principle takes on a new dimension. Is it reasonable to compel a believer in a certain religion to ignore or alter the exercise of that religion in order to comply with local custom? Most people would say no. To take a hypothetical example, imagine that man’s particular religion forbids him to eat cheese on Tuesdays. If he travels to a country where that religious custom is not observed, should the people in that country compel him to eat cheese on Tuesdays merely because they have no scruples against doing so? That probably would be unreasonable.
There are exceptions, then, to the general rule of showing respect for local customs. There are occasions when “the customs of the country,” as the expression goes, do not necessarily apply to a visitor or new resident. Still, honoring local customs is a reasonable expectation, at least where it does not violate certain beliefs.