Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Culture and Community

Poem and Illustration by Shel Silverstein

Culture and Community might be two of my favorite words. I know that the Hispanic culture that I was lucky enough to grow up around and within holds community and family on a platform that most North Americans simply do not. I give credit to this community-oriented culture for my lack of understanding personal space and always wanting to have people around.

What I do not understand is why I absolutely love this aspect of Hispanic culture when there are other members of my family who do not have the same passion about this part of our culture as I do. All I know is that I love having people in my space and I love being in other peoples' space. But maybe this also has to do with the fact that I love people. I can honestly say that my biggest passion is people.

So, I got to thinking about this again in my Cultural Anthropology class on Monday morning. My professor was telling a story of two American women living in Brazil. One of the women had to travel frequently for her job which left the other woman alone for a few days. The woman who was left at home looked forward to this time that she would have alone--some time in her own space by herself. But, when her Brazilian neighbor saw her roommate leave she would send her daughter over within minutes. The daughter would knock on the door and tell the American woman that her mother sent her over for the night so that this woman would not have to be lonely while her housemate was gone. The mother was offering her own daughter to a neighbor so the neighbor would not have to be lonely.

I think more like the Brazilian in this story than the American. I hate being alone because I do feel lonely. I do not get peace or relaxation from being alone. It actually makes me anxious and sad. I would love for my neighbor to come on by and keep me company of I were alone.

Later that night my roommate said a funny thing that seemed to wrap up a lot of my thoughts for the day. As she was closing the door (so we could avoid those that are campaigning for student government) I made a remark about how I hope that we would not miss someone who would want to stop by for a bit. To this my roommate replies, "Yeah, but anyone who we love or loves us would come in anyway."


That is the way that I want to live my life. I want everyone to walk in when they want, stay for awhile and share their day or sit in silence with me. I want to feel, experience and embrace the communities and cultures around me. I know that some people need their space, but I much rather share my space with those people God has put around me--whether I know them or not.

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