Hello and good day!
I had a fascinating conversation with my wife last night about cultural differences.
She expressed something that I've noticed for a long time but had never heard explicitly stated. She said that she is always sizing people up to see if they are trustworthy or not.
In Peru, where she is from, and particularly in the town where she was raised, she said that people were always looking for a way to take advantage. If a person at the market can overcharge you, they will.
If somebody has a counterfeit bill, instead of taking it out of circulation, they'll try to pawn it off on the next sucker.She said that Americans are too trusting and too easy to take advantage of.
For example, we don't negotiate prices in markets. You go to the store, and you pay the listed price. You would never do that where she is from. You always try to get a better price. You go back and forth from store to store and try to play their prices off against each other.
It was very strange for me to see her doing that when we first started dating. I kid you not when I tell you that during her first couple of years living in the United States, she tried to negotiate better prices in the store.
It took me a while to convince her that we don't do that here.
Here is another cultural difference between the United States and Peru. In the US, you aren't really supposed to comment on a person's physical appearance.
In Peru, you always comment on a person's physical appearance.Your physical characteristics end up becoming your nickname.
Heavyset people are called "gordo".People with dark skin are called "negrito".If you limp, you'll be "cojo".And if you have light skin, you'll be "gringito".
When I was a kid, I lived in a rough neighborhood. My dad built a hotel in a part of downtown San Diego that is now very nice.
But when he built the hotel, he was a trail blazer, and the area was awful. He was one of the first people to take the plunge and try to gentrify the neighborhood.We lived just a few miles away from the hotel.
The neighborhood we lived in was custom tailored to keep a hotel owner's son from putting on airs. Our house was robbed many, many times.
I was pushed around and bullied by neighborhood kids all the time. The people in our neighborhood weren't trying to take advantage of us by overcharging us, they were flat out trying to rob us.
Physical violence was an ever-present threat. How does a tall lanky kid who isn't as tough as the kids who are picking on him defend himself?
If he can, he tries to become friends with them. You know a solid strategy for not having to worry about your house being robbed? Don't keep anything nice in the house.
Between my wife and I, there are two different strategies that don't necessarily reconcile well. And in this little microcosm, you can see how cultures clash. This is why trying to look at the world through other people's eyes is so important. If you don't, the way they act can appear totally illogical.
Let's say there is a person who seems a little off. They're coming off as shifty and suspicious. My wife will immediately be on guard. She'll be sizing them up. She certainly doesn't trust them or want to be friends with them.
As to her stuff, it is going on lock down. The stuff must be protected. Put it under lock and key and let's get the person out of the vicinity.
But here is where I am coming from.
I tend to want to get very close to that person. I start learning all about their life story. I get them to open up. I'm trying to become their best friend and somebody they feel very comfortable with. I try to make them laugh.
I might try to get them to share something so personal with me that they tear up.There are a lot of people to rob in the world. You'll at least feel a pang of guilt over robbing a friend.
As to stuff, my environment taught me that the best way to not worry about being robbed is to not have a lot of stuff in the first place. If you don't have a lot of possessions or a lot of nice things, you might as well let the thieves in to have a look around.There is nothing to take anyhow.
I grew to be a very austere person. They can't take what you don't have. You can imagine how this all plays out in a marriage.
Sometimes my wife thinks I am being naive. But I think I am being extremely shrewd. Or my wife thinks I am depriving the family of stuff when I think I am minimizing risk.
On the other hand, sometimes I think my wife is being unnecessarily overprotective or negotiating too aggressively.Interestingly though, we both have the same goals. But our chosen means to achieve the same ends are different.
And this is how cultures work.
You meet somebody from a different culture and their way of acting may seem very foreign. It may be a little off putting at first. But here is where empathy and understanding are required.
If you scratch the surface and go a little deeper, you'll find that almost everybody wants the exact same things, but their ways of getting there are shaped by their upbringing.
On the whole, we all want to love and be loved. We all want to be healthy and free of pain, emotional and physical.We want to do work that we like and find fulfilling.
We'd like to do our part in making the world a better place which means engaging in a struggle on the side of good versus evil.
And one way or another, most of us are trying to understand the meaning of life, why we exist in the first place, and that means that most people are looking for some form of spirituality, a connection with God, or some other clue about the prime mover of existence.
How people go about achieving these goals vary, but the goals are universal. They're sitting there beneath the surface.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!