A friend of mine once explained everything she did (or everything that she did that was peculiar) as--It's cultural. She was just from the south.
I was thinking about cultural differences the other day, how one word or habit doesn't translate exactly into another.
How, for example, in this country, if a person bows his head and fiddles with his lap, you might assume he is texting. In France, I am told, it's very rude to look down and do something with your hands like that. One makes a very different assumption.
Once I asked a French guest what he found most peculiar about Americans. We were driving on the freeway at the time. He said, Americans pass on the right. And then he grinned. And they are SO extra-extra large. You guys need to stay on the ground. I don't want to fly in an airplane with too many Americans.
A Spanish friend once commented on the Americans love of violence, esp. on TV. Our comfort with violence, she said, is really weird. She said that in Spain folks don't relax by watching Arnold. At the same time, they aren't alarmed by nudity. A woman's bare breasts, for example, are seen in an ad that everyone watches on TV.
So Americans, she concluded, are more comfy letting their kids see folks bloodied and blown to bits than letting them see bare breasts. Is that so?
Then she asked . . .
Why is it okay for one president in the U.S. to invade Iraq and cause so much death and destruction, and why is it not okay for another to have an affair with a girl called Monica.
Why is the first considered a good Christian, no matter how many lives he wastes. The other is considered morally corrupt?
I attended a lecture once where a Tibetan monk laughed about how Americans don't think they will ever die. They think reincarnation means they can live forever. That Buddhism is like a Disney movie. My lovely young Americans, he said, please understand. We are all mortals here. Yes, even the Dalai Lama. If you learn nothing else from me, please learn this one lesson. You will die.
AWP in Minneapolis, and recommended reading
3 weeks ago