I have a new employee who was born in Nigeria. In talking with him today, I am always struck by the fact that Americans are so stuck to home. We don’t even know what different types of culture we have in own country. We get off a plane in, say, Salt Lake City, and don’t really pay attention. For those of you from San Francisco or NY, you know what mean.
I’ve heard it said that the coasts are the hub of diversity because they are the ports to the outside world. Yet, here we are with all this technology and we’re not able to break the cultural barriers. It’s a small revelation but I wonder when people will get that the only way to truly know the world is to be out in it? Push away the monitor and see how people REALLY are.
Have you ever been to Lodi? It’s in the middle of nowhere, California. People for Lodi are going to take exception to this but it’s not really a tourist destination. It’s like Redding or Needles or even, I don’t know, Eugene, Oregon. Would you actually GO there on vacation? Now, some people might – on their passing through to somewhere else – Tahoe, California or Portland, Oregon for example. But nobody ever goes to Lodi just to see what the world is really like.
Having lived in a foreign country for two plus years, I can tell you that I saw pompous and crude Americans – the kind that travel in packs and eat like Coney Island. I also saw young travelers eager to see the world and to just observe. Yet, passing through somewhere doesn’t provide the same insight. It’s like just looking in the window without going into the shop. When you pass by, you get a whiff of the fudge or cookies in the bakery but until you go in, you don’t have the real deal. You miss on the sounds, the chatter, all the luscious smells, the visual appeal, the taste. Vacations are like window shopping to find that nice “culture” but really coming away with a cheap souvenir.
The thing I took away most from living in Germany was the knowledge of myself – what am I and who am I as an American, Californian, and San Franciscan.
I’ll never live in Lodi – that I can assure you. No offense to Lodi, I just hate the heat. I love San Francisco and all the weather. I also love the fact that I can sit down and watch an infinite world walk by. I can get a real taste of this society. Where you are, sit somewhere today and watch the world go by. Listen. For just a brief moment, step into the store and breathe deep. Take a taste. Get an idea of what the rest of the world is really about. I contend we will ALL be better for it.