In the article “Imaginary Homelands,” Rushdie states “our identity is at once plural and partial. Sometimes we feel that we straddle two cultures; at other times, we fall between two stools” (Rushdie 15). Rushdie expresses a feeling of unease and a moment of not being able to identify with one particular culture. Kolvenbach recognizes in “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” that the world has a “remarkable ethnic, cultural and class diversity” (31)—this “remarkable” diversity is created by the straddling of cultures that Rushdie focuses on.
When an individual falls “between two stools” and is not comfortable identifying with their ethnic diversity, than others cannot recognize the beauty in their cultural upbringings. To create a “whole person” (34) there must be “an educated awareness of society and culture with which to contribute socially, generously, in the real world” (34). However, the straddling of cultural identity establishes an obstacle in creating whole people shaped by “a well-educated solidarity” (34). When a person cannot find the beauty in his or her own culture than he or she cannot spread a positive message in the world, ultimately creating a more accepting place. Kolvenbach writes that “when the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change” (34), but the direct experience needs to be filled with confidence and self acceptance. There is beauty and value in “the broken mirrors” (Rushdie 11).
The outcome of individuals falling “between two stools” instead of straddling “two cultures” (Rushdie 15) stems from societal problems in which “the predominant ideology reduces the human world to a global jungle whose primordial law is the survival of the fittest” (34). Society does not accept others. Individuals cannot accept his or her ethnic diversity when doing so would make him or her weak members of society. And as a result, society cannot change because of the lack of awareness.
The ideal outcome is to become “men and women for others” (30), but first we must become men and women for ourselves.