Friday, March 27, 2009

A Day Somewhere......

Doesn't mean you live there......

I love my school, I love my major, but one problem I've been finding (in myself and others) is that we have this attitude about how we must know a place because we've spent time there. You know. The people who go to Paris for a week and now apparently know all about French people and culture. The people who go to Kigali or Nairobi and all of a sudden, they completely understand the plight of people in the developing world. I'll admit, I am completely guilty of this myself, having had similar thoughts after my own trip to Europe, but I'm admitting that I am definitely trying to fix things now. This attitude is not a good one to have.

You will never know a nation as well as the people who were raised in it. To suggest otherwise is extreme arrogance. Not only that, but different people in that country will have different impressions. For example, in the US, someone from New York, NY is probably going to think differently than someone from Kissimmee, FL, just because they are two different regions. Not to mention that different countries can have different ethnicities within that country, certainly different class systems, etc. Even more than that, people in general are different. No one thinks exactly the same, acts exactly the same, etc. Thus, you will encounter many different impressions of a certain place, most of them depending on a person's situation and how that situation has formed their perception.

So please, let's stop pretending we know a place. It's ignorant, it's arrogant, and it's not helping anyone. We may have learned something, have had different experiences, maybe even ended up living there for awhile. But living does not equate with knowing. Again, I am completely guilty of this myself, so I'm not trying to be hypocritical. This is something I've realized and I think we should stop. People are people, not categories.

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