It never ceases to amaze me how we’re all alike. Regardless of race, creed, or political inclination, we all want very similar things: to be listened to, respected, and loved. There are some outliers throughout the spectrum, but they’re just that– outliers. Even though it’s hard for me to accept it, I travel with certain preconceived ideas and biases as to what people in different cultures, and countries, believe and how they act. But I’m always pleasantly surprised at how beautiful people are the world over.
I feel like whenever I’m in Europe I have to be the token American explaining how things aren’t as bad as you think they are. That cops aren’t gunning you down in the street for chewing gum. And that there is such thing as Medicaid, Medicare, and unemployment benefits (albeit, we tend to disagree oh how much we should allocate to any one of these). On the other hand, in the US, I generally find myself defending the other side, and explaining how people in southern Europe work just as hard as everyone else, and no the government doesn’t tax you 80% while you take a poverty siesta under a bridge.
Even within the US, I find myself having similar conversations. Heck, even within the confines of the same state. It’s no secret that rural and urban America are as diverse as Texas and California. That’s why it saddens me so much to see people so divided, when deep down inside we agree on 80% things and anyone who’s heard of Pareto knows that that’s more than enough.
Staying up on current events today involves choosing what you want to believe, and then finding the news sources that match your worldview. As armchair scientist, I find that sad at best. Perhaps a better alternative would be to talk to those on the other side of the aisle and see how their day to day looks like. You may be surprised how much you have in common. Talk to those in other states, countries, and sides of the political divide and see how they truly live, instead of assuming your life and needs in San Francisco or Barcelona are remotely similar to someone in Wyoming or Gambia.
After spending a few months in Europe, I thought the States would be in martial law standing 6 inches from each other, while their Covid numbers were going through the roof. I was pleasantly surprised to find that people across a great spread of land, were respectful and cautious, and worried about their neighbors and friends. Even in far off unpopulated towns with less than a handful of cases, when I asked about the situation, I was promptly told– “We’re lucky, but we need to be very careful. We have 3 ICU beds in the entire county, and we currently have 2 occupied.”
It was in one of those off the beaten track towns, through our northern California road trip, where we had the high point of our trip– seeing Arlene again. For the long time readers of the blog (all 3 of them including my mother), you may remember that a few years ago I got lost en route to Oregon, and ended up staying at Arlene’s helping her edit a book she was publishing.
Well, I’m happy to report, that not only has she not changed in 6 years, but she’s been super busy not only with the ducks and hens, but continuing the saga she started years ago. The book is now a trilogy, and is available at the usual places:
Unfortunately due to present circumstances, we couldn’t stay long, but as soon as vaccines or summer outside temperatures arrive, I’m sure to take her up on her offer of a meal.