I’m the first to confess my adherence to the influence of the Training handed down to me by my country, which happens to be the US of A. Too many words? Agree.
I am confessing that, like most humans, I am a product of my environment—which includes the traditions, opinions, attitudes, variety of salad dressings, biases…and on and on…of where I was raised. Now, The US of A is a huge country—these things, of course, vary from sea-to-shining-sea. But let’s be honest (only a slight generalization alert): our collective version of poverty is having to go to the Public Library for Wi-Fi; we feel we’ve “left a child behind” if he or she lacks access to his or her own new-model iPad at school; few of us are washing our clothes in a river and burning garbage. These ideas are included in our Training as Americans.
I write this now, in Mexico, also admitting that it wasn’t ever high on my list to travel here. The not-joking voice of my mom, (“Just don’t get locked up in a Mexican prison”; the pre-irritation of having to watch what I eat and drink (“You could end up with a flesh-eating parasite!”); the scarcity of nut butters…these things made Mexico a non-“must see”.
But I am lucky, because despite this indifference and these inherited biases, I had the opportunity to visit. And I said “yes”. And although I still cannot drink the tap water, there’s a prevalence of giant 3-gallon jugs everywhere I’ve stayed. And although I’ve seen the presence of police everywhere, they mostly smile and look down at my feet (a common occurrence—to see if I’m wearing heels or am really this tall). And instead of nut butter, there is guacamole—and there is nothing better than an avocado (I said nothing—don’t argue with me).
Divisions have historically been built into societies—for reasons of practicality. There’s a big ‘ol ocean separating continents; we speak different languages; we look different (for example, I look like a giraffe). But more and more, it’s getting harder to justify defaulting to this “Training” I speak of. It’s getting harder to point to “us” vs. “them” because…the Internet, Google translate, and airplanes (airplanes are still a marvel) …
I’m not about to start talking about boarders or even bring politics into this post. But it occurred to me as I was listening to the news (listening is enough—I can’t watch), that a lot of us humans have a huge lack of self-awareness. We are blind to our Training—and it’s not a good enough excuse for spewing hatred and ignorance anymore. Not good enough.
I am so very lucky because I get to see different parts of the world in person. And I am pleased (although sometimes disturbed) to report they are not as “different” as we’ve been taught to believe. There is a Starbucks in Guanajuato, Mexico and Ubud, Bali, and Taipei, Taiwan…and on-and-on…
We have run out of excuses.
The bottom line (if you’ve made it to the bottom) is this:
We are “Those People” to Them.
I am “A White American Other” to another.
I grew up eating iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing…
We have run out of excuses.