“All of our wars and global irritation with one another is over our determination to promote sameness…”
I read the above quote online the other day and sat and thought about it.
Christians who are lead to spread The Word around the world and in its history, have killed many who would not cooperate and accept the religion. Muslims have killed those who are not of the same religion, whites have killed blacks because they are not the same color, Spanish kill Mayans. Sudanese kill Chadians. Sunnis kill Shiites. Turks kill Armenians. You know…the list goes on…
So then I was thinking about all the ways that being different has been an advantage and how, with just a bit of encouragement, we can make a big difference in our own backyard if we are so inclined. After all, peace begins with me, so…
One of the reasons I like to travel, especially out of the United States, is because I am truly interested in the way other cultures live their day-to-day lives. When I travel, I can truly say, I am not much on 5-star hotels. Not to say they aren’t the best thing since pockets on a shirt, but really? The hotel restaurant doesn’t usually serve regional food and do you want to eat at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing?
So, one way I see the good stuff is to ask a taxi driver, shuttle driver or even the baggage handler at the airport, for a suggestion on where to eat. A local’s joint with regional food. If I can, then I start a conversation with the person serving me food about something else that might be happening that is unique to that area. One of the best experiences I have had in traveling was when I was in Tanzania. We stopped in a village after a full day of driving and asked a woman cooking on an open fire in front of her home, where we could stay and where we could eat. We stayed at a small inn that had a big pot of warm water on a fire and used big plastic buckets to wash the day’s grime away. It was truly, one of the best showers, I have ever had.
After we had cleaned up a bit, we went back to the woman cooking and bought some of her food. Chicken and chibati bread with greens. Delish. As we were eating while sitting on the side of the road, a group of young, handsome Masai Moran (warriors) walked by. Because my friend, Nigel and his wife Sarah speak the language…a conversation was struck and the Morani invited us to their village the next morning. What happened there was just as serendipitous and wonderful.
My point is…what are we so afraid of?
People that are different from us. We insist on sameness so that we can feel comfortable. We want to feel comfortable.
My challenge to you today is to reach out to someone who is different. She might wear a headscarf. He might be gay. She might have multiple piercings…but reach out. I know most of you do, but could you a little more?
Peace, as they say, begins with me…and you.