A love story: a man’s perspective
I have so many questions about how I will conduct myself in today’s United States. I have so many questions about how we converse to address hard hate. Ours is a country of multiplicity, and a country of unbridled spite. We march for personal freedoms, and we march for the Alt-Right. How can we cope with our divisions and our President’s revisions? Read on for thoughts on today’s US politics, and a photo gallery of a trip (at the end of the post) to NYC – a place I believe may hold some of the answers we seek.
Every country has its own complex history, culinary tradition, spiritual expression (or three); its psycho-social reaction to trauma, methods to educate, and medical treatments; dances, songs, artistic oeuvre; political organ, scientific tradition, brick-a-brack house, street food, topiary, dog breed, orchid… This is all just people, us, trying to make sense of what we’ve got.
From my respective box, I offer a solution to my aunt Ellie’s question about ethically depicting another culture to an American audience: characterize the “odd” habits of the “others” as the commonplace. Because that’s precisely what they are – a commonplace you just don’t understand, yet.
Comparing two cultures is a privilege – if not an essential practice – that can catalyze greater understanding of the self, a native society and how societies relate to one another. My time in Moldova has helped me see beyond what I had been socialized to accept as “normal.”
People have to make sense of what they observe, and the way the human mind accomplishes this most efficiently is to draw upon previous experience. We compare and contrast, often intuitively. It’s a box – we can become trapped in it – but it’s on wheels.
When you come to know how little you will know is vital. Part of it is developing the skill to change your vantage point. Part of it is learning to give yourself the side-eye. Humble advice: employ “the snort” for emphasis.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my integration into Comrat. It’s uncomfortable to know that I’m often still interpreting interactions and observations based on my own cultural framework and personal values. I’m perfecting the “you’re an idiot but I love you” internal monologue. I practice on the cat to make sure it’s affectionate.