Everyone loves their own culture
Goodness, it has been nearly a week since we left Spokane. I have had very little opportunity to write or blog, we have been so incredibly busy.
We had an overnight layover in Ethiopia on our way to Rwanda. The airport in Ethiopia is very nice. I somehow imagined it to be understated. Not because of stereotyping, but because I had done some checking online before we left. Ethiopia is interested in attracting more business, so their airlines offer free hotel stay for travelers who must overnight at the airport. We all were given a free dinner that night, free transport to nice hotels, a free breakfast the next morning, and shuttle back to the airport. Our hotel was rather grand. I would say it was, by American standards a four or five star hotel. On our way back to the airport, one of the other travelers was Joseph, a man from Angola.
Joseph is an international business person. We talked about his family and his country. He told me the one thing he loves about his culture is that people all help each other, even strangers. He said that you will see someone carrying a heavy load and a stranger will simply come up and help them carry the load without any question. Usually, people help friends and family, but not strangers.
One question I ask of people from other cultures: if you were to pick one cultural value that is unique to your culture and that Americans do not have but would benefit from it if they did have it, what would you pick? It is a difficult question for many people to answer. I sometimes turn it around and ask them what one American cultural value would they benefit from if they would adopt it. It is amazing the kinds of answers I receive.
I have heard comments about communication styles, politics, social issues, Americans talk too much, Americans have strong individual rights and responsibilities, America needs national health care, Americans are too worried about political correctness, Americans offer true gender equity, etc. Joseph offered this: “Everyone loves their own culture.” He refused to answer the question as asked because – and he is probably right – it is a mute point. Who would adopt a different cultural value? It makes some sense.
No matter who I talk to, though, one thing remains the same. Joseph said that people are people everywhere and that governmental systems do not accurately reflect the values of the people they represent. So, no matter what the world thinks of the American government, and no matter what we think of the world, people generally do not have malice toward others but are more concerned about feeding their families, living with purpose, and practicing their faith.
I wish I had given Joseph our blogsite so that he might see this.