Saturday, July 14, 2007
Living in Other Cultures
Often, Arville and I are asked about the things we miss by living overseas, and the first thing that comes to our minds is that we miss seeing our children, their families, our extended families, and our friends in the States whenever we wish. But lately I have been considering what we have gained over the years by living in other cultures and learning from the people we have known.
This past week, Mary Beth taught me how to download music onto my I-Pod (which isn’t altogether a good thing – ha!) and I discovered something very interesting about my music tastes. I am very eclectic when it comes to music that I like. I listen to all kinds of music: classical, rock ‘n roll, folk music, African music, French songs, opera, jazz, Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, etc. But, I have more country and western music than anything else. Yes, I admit it --- I am crazy about country music.
I say this so that you know I like Alan Jackson’s music. I have quite a few of his albums. I purchased a cd of his a couple of years ago; it came out after 9/11. There are songs on this particular cd that talk about family, love, and even learning to drive on a tractor and in an old car (you know you can make a country western song from almost any subject, right???). One of the songs on this album asks the question: “Where were you when the world stopped turning”? It sounds good on the surface, then you get to the chorus. It says,
“I’m just a singer of simple songs, I’m not a real political man.
I watch CNN, but I’m not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq & Iran.
But I know Jesus, and I talk to God.
And I remember this from when I was young.
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us.
But the greatest is love.”
So when asked about what we have gained by living in other cultures, I think one of the advantages is that we have more of a worldview--- a view that doesn’t include thinking that God loves Americans more than He loves other people. We actually do know people from Iraq and Iran, and we have developed the understanding that Jesus taught us to love not only those who love us, but also our enemies—and not all Iraqis and Iranians are our enemies.
To love others, one has to know them first. So I take Jesus’ words to be a directive to me personally to try to know, understand, and even love people who might have a reason to hate me. I have to ask myself if I felt the same kind of pain when I saw the Muslim, Kosovar Albanians being herded across the border of Macedonia and Albania, the massacre in Mozambique, the plight of Ethiopia, the kind of horror that the Palestinians and the Israelis live with on a daily basis---as I felt on that dark day in America, September 11.