There will always be a bit of culture shock upon coming home. You would think it would be the other way around, but not really. I notice this first in airports. There is always someone who just makes my jaw drop. For example, we had 1 hour to make a connection, as well as everyone else in the Frankfurt airport, so the 4 lines we had to go through were super long. People started to cut in line by sneaking under the ropes to get to the front of the line. Other people in line started yelling at them for doing this and then the groups started fighting and swearing at each other. And guess what, we all made our connections…
Then in Chicago we had a lot of delays. The plane we needed, arrived late and we were asked to start boarding. We were on the walkway onto the plane and they would not let us on the plane as they had not cleaned up yet. We stood there for about 45 minutes not knowing why we could not board. Finally, we learned that someone had thrown up on the plane and it needed intense cleaning. So, one of the guys in line gets on his phone and says: “Hi, yeah, I am delayed by two hours because some A$%H*(#@ puked on the plane. He continued to call this person bad names and passing judgement on him (her?). I did not say anything, but I wanted to say: “Yeah, some person decided that he would just puke all over on a four hour flight from Oregon just to make sure YOU were delayed”. SERIOUSLY!
The second issue is elections. In Ghana there president had died recently. Everyone in Accra we dealt with seemed sad about this. There were many tributes to him on billboards throughout the city. There is also an election coming up in December and there are about 15 people running. There were also billboards all over the city (and other cities we were in) for each candidate. They did not bash, they did not insult, they did not judge. They just said:
“this is who I am and what I stand for”. End of story. What a novel idea! In Ethiopia, their president had also died. People were very upset about this. Again, throughout Addis Ababa, Awassa and smaller towns, there were tributes to this man recognizing what he accomplished. Did everyone like this president all the time? No. But did they respect him and honor what he accomplished? Yes.
So as I arrive home and drive back from the airport I see signs that say “Take back our country” and “If you want to be a communist, vote for Obama” The debate had also just happened and all over the internet was “analysis” of the contenders. Did these commentators talk about the issues? No, they discussed who talked too long and who stumbled over their words and who looked pale and who looked confident. I was not able to watch the debates and when I looked online all I found was judgement and criticism. I have no idea what was even discussed. (I know I am also guilty of this judgement as well) It is just total insanity!
We have a lot going for us here. But I think we are also very self-centered and entitled. We are so good at focusing on petty issues that have no relevance to relationships, or positive change or optimism. I guess what I am saying is that when I see a handicap child dragging herself through the dirt to get where she wants to go and there is not one care giver there to help her, or when I see a baby being wrapped up in a blanket and set out in the oppressive heat because there is no incubator, I can not believe that I get worked up about the issues I do. I can not believe that we are frustrated with our political system when we actually have a system that women can vote in and that we don’t have to worry about being murdered at the polls.
I would encourage you just for one minute today to just be grateful, happy and optimistic. About one thing. That is all. Cheers.