Several times I’ve heard the phrase “the religion of your parents’ choosing”, used to scoff at adherents to various religions, as if they had no intelligent choice in the matter of their own beliefs. As the thought goes, religious standing (or lack thereof) should be a personal matter, one to be decided rationally (yes, there is such a thing as rational faith; to say otherwise is to label all religious people as fideists, which is a mistake) by individuals, apart from their social group if possible.

How strange then not to carry this philosophy into more of our social behaviors. Why should we then avoid phrases such as “the culture/land of your parents’ choosing”?

It seems to me that this carries the same implications as religious belief. For instance, permenently moving to another country is in a sense turning one’s back on their upbringing and their whole social group. Of course this isn’t a total turning away: a person might return to one’s home country after many years, just as they might return to their faith after many years away.

Both of these moves seem only possible after exposure to different ways of thinking, something increasingly made possible as the modern world progresses. It should be of little surprise then that more people will test the waters of other faiths, or lack of faith, just as they may test the waters of living in a different culture. It seems increasingly easy to do, especially in a highly individual-centered culture. Trying a new career or a new life may be a challenge, but it might have the same motive as turning over in bed: the current position has become uncomfortable, and a new position becomes increasingly more alluring.

Some people may stay in their new culture, new career, new faith - their new way of life - and some may eventually return.

Either way they are forever changed, and hopefully for the better: hardened by experience and permanently viewing the world through a different lens.

Either way I think is better than not having ventured out at all.