Familiarity Breeds … Familiarity?

My grandfather Ole Floren’s trunk on the voyage from Norway to South Dakota, Cameroonian woman, map of New Zealand, mango from the Philippines, stone from Alaska

We live in a global village, work in a global economy, worry about global warming and try to be worthy of global citizenship. The underpinnings of the present political struggle between the far right/Tea Party and the rest of us is fear of this big new world in its many-colored guises. It is understandable to some degree…I cannot accept that a woman wants to be one of many wives or live her community life in an ugly black shroud, I do not understand the manipulations and shenanigans of New Mexico’s state budgeters much less those of the U.S. or the world and I truly fear the rising waters of global warming.

There are choices about how to deal with this unease, this fear. One is to pretend these issues do not exist and to try to elect government decision-makers that promise to make it all go away. Bring jobs home to America—except for the people making your cheap Wal-Mart junk, keep those “foreigners” out, speak English only, burn more coal/bomb for oil. The underlying message being “I’m scared of NOW, of doing something different.”

The other choice is to get out there, explore the village: walk its streets, shop in its stores, meet the neighbors—acquire global citizenship. Whoever you are you can get your passport stamped through books, film, food, travel and meeting the new neighbors. There is no excuse for limiting your experience to your street corner.

Google ‘global citizenship’ and there is founding father, Thomas Paine, who described his notion of being a global citizen thusly: My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

 Now even though Paine was responsible for much of what was written defining freedom, he was eventually rejected because of the abiding American insistence that no beliefs are valid outside of the precept of an all-powerful god who can give anyone behaving badly a pass if only they repent. We can thank a few people over the centuries like Paine that the global religion, for which fundamentalists of all faiths long  and for which they are willing to kill, has not yet become a reality.

I am about to reread “The Global Soul” by Pico Iyer because it so profoundly influenced my desire to visit every country in the world. I first read it 10 or so years—or about 60 countries ago. I had not yet started to feel like a global soul. Now I think I do. I know some neighborhoods in this sprawling confusing village well and some hardly at all. But I increasingly understand how a home can be created on any of its streets and it will always be a place that mixes the known with the unknown, the safe with the unsafe, and the familiar with the unfamiliar in surprising and pleasing ways.

My favorite word is global, I produce a festival called Global DanceFest and I approve this message.

Next to food…on a scale of life’s necessities. From a postcard by Soizick Meister

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