juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

THEM AND US

on July 15, 2012

THEM AND US

When I first began this blog I promised there would be no discussion of politics.  Aside from voting I have no interest in politics. This is as close as I’ll come to that subject.

It never ceases to amaze me how much different various cultures are. I once visited the Asian Museum in Golden Gate Park and left with the distinct impression that the Japanese were a peaceful people and the Chinese were militaristic. (Don’t ask me how that squares with the existence of Kamikaze pilots.) It’s unfair to draw such a conclusion but that is the impression the exhibits create.

I’m not a student of the culture of any country but I’m a bit envious of some which prioritize ideas and philosophies far different from those of the citizens of this country.  I continually ask myself why we have not incorporated some of those ideas into our lifestyle.

A partial answer might be that, compared to cultures with centuries of traditions, Americans are infants on the cultural stage. From the start our philosophy has been one that says “Work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and hurry up and do it now.”  Of course there’s more: there’s respect for freedom, a willingness to help the downtrodden.  But there isn’t much in the way of being spiritually conscious. By spiritually I do not mean religiously. I mean an awareness of, and appreciation for, those things that nourish the soul: love, beauty, friendship.

Look at the ancient Greek respect for beauty; the Indians respect for nature; the tranquility prized in Japan; the French high regard for food and the way in which it is eaten – all unmatched in America.  The manner in which food is presented in a Thai restaurant reflects a consciousness of beauty not seen in most American restaurants.  A Japanese garden is tranquil; conducive to relaxation and, introspection.  How many places do you know of that invite you to sit, absorb the beauty of nature and think?

When my children were growing up I wanted to regularly take them to the opera, a symphony, a ballet, but the cost of four tickets was prohibitive.  Not so in some European countries where the arts are subsidized and tickets are close to gratis.America is far wealthier than some of those countries so if they can do that, why can’t we?

If I compare the architecture of a Buddhist temple with a cathedral in New York, or Chicago or San Francisco it seems to me the Buddhist temple says “Come in. Seek greater peace and tranquility.” The cathedral says, “Look at how grand and magnificent I am.”

We sit down to dinner, often made from frozen foods or carry-out, gobble it up in  ten minutes and rush off to a Little League game or plop in front of the TV for hours of mind-numbing ‘entertainment.’  An Italian family sits down to a dinner of five, home-made, courses and spends two or more hours enjoying their meal and the interaction between family members.

When the Japanese Shoguns were overthrownJapansent delegates throughout the world to study the educational, economic, welfare, health care and political systems of other countries.  Its goals were to emulate the best of the lot. They were smart enough to be willing to learn from others. Has the U .S. ever done anything comparable? Isn’t it possible the health care system of Sweden or Poland or any other country is better than ours?  Could it be that if we emulated the educational system of Russia or China our kids might not score lower academically than the kids in half a dozen other civilized countries?

Israel, like America, is a nation of immigrants. Most of those immigrants are taught Hebrew and become independent and self-supporting within six months or less.  We, on the other hand, find ourselves facing numerous problems occasioned by those who do not speak and read English.  Why? Israel’s methodology isn’t a state secret: it’s not written in code.

This you may not believe. There are some remote South Pacific islands where it is common practice to hire an older woman to introduce a young man to sex.  WHAT?  That’s right. Betcha ten bucks those boys become lovers par excellence.  That is not something to easily dismiss. Is there something to be learned from that practice?

I really don’t care who our next President will be but I’d be grateful if he or she was someone who did not wear blinders: someone who recognized we could learn from others and did something about it.

Post a comment.

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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