I have a great privilege of knowing and collaborating with people from many different cultures all over the world. I never dreamed I'd be given such a gift, how lucky am I!
One day I was in one of our old time local stores (I like buying from local vendors.) I got into a conversation with the clerk, who I know. He’s always wondering where I’m headed next. I told him about my upcoming trip to Rwanda (yes I’ll still be hearing clients by phone, as usual.) :) He voiced his concern because of the violence, war, and news in the past of people killing and maiming others over religion. I explaining that Rwanda, years ago, went through an amazing and agonizing, yet thorough, reconciliation process. (I often comment about how the United States would immensely benefit from this process.) Rwanda is now peaceful; with a government that is a majority of women.
Next, I told my friend that I’ve also been invited to Kenya. I’m really curious to observe the people and their cultural and family systems, which I work with in my professional practice. Some of the people where I would visit, have lived on their same homestead ancestral lands for almost 800 years. This is incomprehensible for us here in the United States. As a country, we haven’t even been in existence that long. We are so young. (It is possible that some of our native peoples, who are our national heritage, can recite their ancestral ties to their land. Let’s ask for their stories, and listen.) My friend commented about what African people still have to learn as a “Third World” country. I commented about how we, in this country, have such a misinterpretation of the world at large; that Africa is an ancient (and immense) land. These people farm and provide all services that sustain their whole community. They coexist with monkeys, lions, elephants, giraffes, etc. and take care of each other. They have all basic needs met: home, food, education, energy, health care, and a shared and intimate connection with mother earth. They are healthy. They love each other. Their needs are met. Can we, with all our toys of technology say the same?
What I said, I could tell, was a lot of information for my friend to absorb. It was counter to what he has learned. There wasn't anything he could say in response. Right there, I admired him. At least he had the ability to listen and open his mind just a little….. with grace. Maybe we, in this brand new country, can give that gift to our planet co-inhabitants in 2020.
Don't be fooled and then trapped by a superiority rhetoric. Seek out others who are different than you and come from other places. Try to lift yourself up and comprehend the bigger picture. We, all of us together, are each a puzzle piece that make a whole picture. See through the eyes of wonder. You will be richer than you can imagine.