(Excerpt only - not full article)
Bob Shacochis rants on the importance of living abroad-
If you want to know a man, the proverb goes, travel with him. If you want to know yourself, travel alone. If you want to know your own home, your own country, go make a home in another country (not Canada, England, or most of Western Europe.) Stop at a crossroads where the light is surreal, nothing is familiar, the air smells like a nameless spice, and the vibes are just plain alien, and stay long enough to truly be there. Become an expatriate, a victim of self-inflicted exile for a year or two.
Sink into an otherness that reflects a reverse image of yourself, wherein lies your identity, or lack of one. Teach English in Japan, aquaculture in the South Pacific, accounting in Brazil. Join the Peace Corps, work in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, set up a fishing camp on the beach of Uruguay, become a foreign correspondent, study architecture in Istanbul, sell cigarettes in China.
And here's the point: Amid the fun, the risk, the discomfort, the fog of miscommunication, the servants and thieves, the food, the disease, your new friends and enemies, you'll find out a few things you thought you knew but didn't.
You'll learn to engage the world, not fear it, or at least not to be paralyzed by your fear of it. You'll find out, to your surprise, how American you are -- 100-percent, and you can never be anything but -- and that is worth knowing. You'll discover that going native is self-deluding, a type of perversion. Whatever gender or race you are, you'll find out how much you are eternally hated and conditionally loved and thoroughly envied, based on the evidence of your passport.
You'll find out what you need to know to be an honest citizen of your own country, patriotic or not, partisan or nonpartisan, active or passive. And you'll understand in your survivor's heart that it's best not to worry too much about making the world better. Worry about not making it worse.
When you come back home, it's never quite all the way, and only your dog will recognize you.
(End of excerpt)
Erin found this excerpt a few days ago and I needed to post it to get some feedback. It fits in with some things I have been thinking about lately. Everything I read, watch and experience seems to keep reminding me how self absorbed we are. We need to think our way is right and our world is the most important. We think that what we are doing is crucial to everyone else's existence. We believe that our comfort and well being is the measure for how things are in the world.
I'm wondering what we think about this writing. Do we agree with the author that experiencing cultures different from our own will drastically change our persective? Do our perspectives need to be changed? Do we agree with the author's statement that we should be less worried about making the world better but instead worried more about not making it worse?
Over the next few posts I'm going to be working on some thoughts along these lines and would love feedback. Please let me know what you think and how you see our perspectives on the rest of the world and maybe we'll all spend some time in a foreign culture for a while because of our discussion...or maybe not...