Monday, August 21, 2006
Perspectives of a Nomad: Birth of a Name
A couple weeks ago, Noi Rocker asked me how I determined the name of my blog, and why I write the posts that I do. I created the following posts, and now share it with you, my loyal readers.
In 1988, I was part of the second group of Americans to be allowed to travel in the Soviet Union as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost initiative. At the time I was at an excellent but extraordinarily liberal college in the Midwest, with very little understanding of how the world worked or how other people viewed the events of the day other than my own narrow, but liberal, understanding. That all changed in the Soviet Union.
I went to the Soviet Union expecting people to be oppressed, straining under the yoke of communism. I thought my conversations would be about the horror of bread lines, the disgrace of sharing small living spaces with multiple people, and the fear of speaking openly. And I found a great deal of that in the younger generation. But I found an older generation filled with hope, joy, and prosperity.
Many of the older people there remembered a much tougher time in Russia’s history, a time where few people had jobs, money, or food. These people remembered a day when they were living on the street through the cold Russian winters, where the country had been destroyed by the horrors of WWII, and where little hope was in sight. 40+ years later, with these memories fresh in their minds, the older Russian generation was grateful for all the Soviet had done for them.
Perhaps most interesting, both generations had similar views on more global events. Both generations did not trust the West, but they also both felt, for the most part, that the Cold War was more propaganda than fact. Both feared nuclear escalation, longed for peace, and had the same love of art and culture. I found that, for the most part, all the people had similar core beliefs, but approached different situations with different perspectives.
And this rang true throughout my travels. In Kenya, where the country was technologically far behind the West, people marveled at what we considered passé, but those core values were still the same. In Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, people approach current events based on what they hear in the media, and through their education, but people who subscribe to a view of people in the Middle East as immoral or evil would be shocked to see how similar their base morality is to ours or to Israel’s.
I would find as much difference in perspectives between people in New York and people in Indiana as I would find between people in Philly and people in Egypt, but all of the people would have many more similarities that differences, and the similarities would be more fundamental, more at the core of who these people were. Traveling from London to Amsterdam would be as great a difference in perspectives as traveling fro Boston to Ocean City, NJ, but different perspectives did not make for different people.
So when it came time to write my blog, I wanted to focus on how similar we are as people, even while coming at events from a different point of view. I wanted to relay how our core philosophies are really the same, and as such we should be able to find ways to get along and agree on issues that right now divide us. It’s my belief that if we can find a way to do this, the world will be a much better, much happier, much safer place.
I’ve been blessed with having lived in most of the places I’ve been long enough to see events from the perspective of that area, and when I write I try to take all of these different perspectives into account. Sometimes it may come out like I’m indecisive, but in reality I’m just looking at an event from multiple points of view, and letting others see that point of view while still relating to their perspective.
It is my sincere hope that, by doing this, I will eventually help at least a few people in divergent cultures relate to each other. Then, perhaps, they will help others relate to each other, and the trend will grow. Because in reality, if we can get past the petty differences, we may find so many similarities between people of the world that we can do away with much of the strife that holds us down today.
Posted by Scottage at 10:26 AM /