The world is bigger than this

We are right, they are wrong. Our opinion is more worth than theirs, slightly.

What concerns me is the attitude where I live, and I think it’s generalizable to big parts of the human population, towards other cultures. So many peoples identity is based on the country, the region or even the street where they live. Or the language they are speaking. The people I think of are those whos home is the only right one. Their work the only right one to have, their believes and habits the only right way to think. And I live in a part of the world that prouds itself for being so open-minded!

I have the feeling that an increasing number of people has a tendency to this way of thinking. It may be the financial crisis which lets people focus on their own situation, makes them worry about the future and narrows their minds. This is, a quite normal reaction to a crisis. It may also be me. Maybe people are as they have been all my life, but me more sensible to their reactions right now.

Let’s talk about me for a second. Many people have found me strange all my life, sometimes by choice, sometimes because I just have been clumsy and too lazy to do things in a normal way. My newest passion: Learning Korean. Being different seems to be positive: People smile at you and laugh. The sad thing is then, that this laugh may not be a positive feedback, i.e. they laugh at you. Everybody has experienced such a reaction.

But sometimes it’s more acceptable for me to get a laugh, because it means that it triggers a strong feeling in the one who laughs. Laughter is a strong reaction. You may even be able to discuss with that person! It’s a door to this persons mind!

Worse may be the smile. Seconds later, when that person has turned away, he/she may have forgotten all about what was said.

There a good news and there are bad news.

The good news are, that many people react with laughter. The bad news are, that the door to peoples mind far too often seem to be blocked by strong chains, which often allow their mind-door only to be opened enough for the person inside to look out, but nobody strange coming in. This is what people normally do, both with their minds and with their physical doors. I do it too, quite too often. It’s just too comfortable to smack the door, look an the pieces of the world which have managed to get through the gap, when the door was opened, and arrange these pieces in a way that they make sense. Now it turns out that these pieces are not like a jigsaw puzzle, where a new piece just fills out an empty spot. It’s more like when you have a heap of things and try to categorize them. You start with the first few pieces, find a pattern, and start sorting things after this pattern in boxes. There are always a few things that don’t really fit into any of the boxes, so you have one box for these things. Along the way you may  find that another pattern does fit much better and you start resorting your things. You may even end up with an empty box for the “strange” things, that didn’t match the pattern. Now you feel safe to open your door to the world. Opinions, knowledge and people may fit into your boxes in the start but eventually the box for “strange” things starts to overflow.

Now, this is where so many people choose to solve the piling up in the “Strange”-box, by jamming the door and only let those impressions come in, that fit into their boxes. The rest is rejected with the words: “This is strange” sometimes accompanied by laughter.

We have all done so. (Consider the implications if not!)

But think about it! Why is it strange? Is it strange when somebody starts singing in the mall? Is it strange when somebody murders another human? Or takes a bath in freezingly cold water? Or cuts him/herself? Think about it. Why do these people act this way? What is their line of thought? You normally don’t do things that you find strange without a good reason. Why do you act the way you do?

So open your mind!

What got me writing this is peoples reaction to me learning Korean. I had started learning Chinese before and got stuck after some weeks. The reactions then where the same as now, when I tell people about the culture of the respective country. K-pop is very popular right now due to the immense success of PSY’s (싸이) “Gangnam Style” (강남 스타일). When translating the lyrics of this and other K-pop songs, I must admit that they often are somewhat silly, express a narrow band of emotions and use metaphors that are funny for a non-Korean listener. When confronting friends with the translated lyrics, they laugh and declare the Korean for “strange” and close their mind-door. By the way, I find many of the current (English) mainstream music’s lyrics just as silly, but that doesn’t seem to be a valid argument for that music being strange! More frightening is the tendency that some people had, when I presented them to K-pop songs. They started to look for similarities to songs they know and accused the K-pop song for being stolen/copied, seemingly in the assumption that nothing new (or good) can be created by others than the artists belonging to the European/American culture.

But it’s not unique to K-pop. This is just one example how mind-doors are jammed. There are uncountable others.

Why is the interest in the US President Election so extensive, why not in the Chinese? or Indian?

I must admit that the importance of the US for the rest of the world, economically and cultural, is a bit exaggerated by politicians, the finance sector and media in comparison to the rest of the world.

1-2 fewer news about the US Election and 2 more from other countries instead would do it. What is the political setting in Brazil? Or in India? What happens in Australia? Kenya? Mongolia?

The world is bigger than Europe and the US. Open your door!

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