Grandpa's Guides

Grandpa's Guides

An old man's outlook on life, love and growing up

We Lose When We Fail to Take Advantage of Cultural Opportunities

At Home Culture

Welcome to another Monday morning rant. This one will be a positive plea, though, even though the headline is negative.

I think some people think of culture as having to do with learning about someone far away. (This, of course, is an American bias, and maybe an Australian or island one as well. Europeans and people on other continents, on the other hand, don’t need to go far to find themselves in a different country.)

What we miss is that there are different cultures right in our own country. Many times, these cultures exist only miles from our home. And yet, I think many people never take advantage of the learning experience that awaits them.

Restaurants and Grocery Stores

A simple place to start is with restaurants and grocery stores. Within 5 miles of my home I can find 4 Asian grocery stores, a Polish store, several Mexican stores, and a plethora of restaurants with cuisines from other countries.

I know some of you will say, “Hey Tic, I like Chinese food,” (substitute your favorite for Chinese), and think that just ordering from the restaurant makes you multi-cultural.

It don’t work that way. You’ve got to get to know the people who own or work in these establishments on a more personal level. Have you ever talked to them about where they grew up? What brought them to your country?

Now, you can’t do this in one visit. You’ve got to go several times so that they get to see that you’re a regular. That will help open the dialogue. And of course, this doesn’t really happen in a grocery store. However, even here, you can start up a conversation based on a recipe you might be thinking of trying. How would they cook it? What ingredients would they use that you don’t have? You can start by asking where something is, since, if this is your first time in the store, chances are you won’t easily find what you’re looking for.

Deep Down We Want the Same Things

When we demonize people who aren’t like us, we fail to realize that in fact, inside, they are very much like us. It’s only the outside that looks different.

On an overly simplified basis, I think everyone wants to live comfortably, have a place to eat and sleep, and have as few things to worry about as possible. So, I just want to establish that there is common ground among most of us humans.

And the richness of humanity is in its diverse expressions and experiences. If you shut out those whose experience is different from yours, you lose out on the wonder of life.

Until next time,