Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eu nao sou da sua rua...

Anybody up for some deep cultural reflection?!

Eu nao sou da sua rua
Eu nao sou o seu vizinhou
Eu moro muito longe, sozinho
Estou aqui de passagem

Eu nao sou da sua rua
Eu nao falo a sua lingua
Minha vida e diferente da sua
Estou aqui de passagem
Esse mundo nao e meu,
Esse mundo nao e seu.

We listened to that song in our Portuguese class today. Here's a link:

Mildly translated it says:

I'm not from your street
I'm not your neighbor
I live far from here, alone
I'm here travelling

I'm not from your street
I'm not your neighbor
My life is different than yours
I'm here travelling
This world is not mine
This world is not yours

Even though we weren't doing any deep reflection in class when we listened to it...only learning possessive tenses, it led me to thinking about international relations and some of the deeper problems that exist amidst them.

Perhaps the last two lines say it all, the world is not yours nor theirs. If I could sum up my international travels in just a short phrase, it would be with one that my Honors-PLUS trip to Asia brought to our attention frequently: IT'S NOT BETTER OR WORSE, IT'S JUST DIFFERENT!

The real question we should be asking amidst international discussions is..."What is your motive?" or "What are your goals?" These questions give us a direct route to what is trying to be achieved. But...most intercultural discussions (I'm generalizing here) end in an angered or enraged analysis of different methodologies and often result in a natural dissent of opinion and natural failure of relationship building. Or one person leaving the conversation feeling superior or inferior, based on something outside their control, or with a feeling of arrogance...most notably from US citizens, whose robust economy, government, culture and socioeconomic wealth afford us the opportunity to claim many top rankings in many of those categories.

I've seen many a things in my international travels that I thought to myself...." that's different!" How about live animals to buy as food in a Chinese Walmart? Or an unscaled fish to eat in Nicaragua? Maybe a government that shuts off the city's access to water to conserve energy...again in Nicaragua? Or is it eating dinner at 10 PM in Barcelona? Sleeping with bugs, birds, and lizards in El Salvador anyone? Or having a house maid there that is paid less than $1 per day? Grocery shopping with Kimodo dragons on a river gondola with monks in Thailand? Or buying gas out of glass coke 2-liters while driving on the other side of the road there too? Maybe you think it's odd that most Latin Americans don't wear shorts, despite the incredibly hot temperatures? Anybody surprised by different forms of governments, religions, racial differences, the list goes on? You name it, it exists! That's what makes the world such a vibrant and exciting place to live. In fact, the more you travel, the more you begin to ask yourself what is considered normal? Quite frankly, I don't even know what's "normal" anymore.

For me, it's hard not to pick up a newspaper nowadays and see an article describing a meeting between nations that doesn't involve an imposition of values, morals, policies, relgions, human rights, etc. from one to another. It makes me wonder how far the respective parties have dug into one another's customs and cultures to understand what it truly means to be one of them...before, making such an attempt to impose.

So that's my challenge to you all. Employ it in the simplest of forms or on the grandest task you've undertaken: do your very best to understand the other party's objectives before scrutinizing their methodologies. I suspect the conversations that will follow will be very different from having had that perspective.

While this account provides no solution, it's simply a thought-provoking post. What's good and what's bad? Is this world mine or is it yours? It's all relative. One of my friends and I have a quippish saying when we see something that we initially think is "wrong" but which steers us to a new thought of it being "different".

Friend one: "That's a recipe for disaster!"
Friend two: "Or success, if you're looking for disaster!"

While we use it when we need a good laugh, perhaps this explains some of the world's most tragic occurrences in my opinion...terrorist attacks, wars, shootings, petty crimes. "Bad" by my definition but a "success" for the perpetrators.

I've strayed from the lighthearted and simple song that I started with but its simple verses, for me, have a profound message, most notably in the 7th line: My life is different than yours.

And when you can fully accept that fact, then I think you'll find paradise, not frustration, in being different. For it's the discovery of differences that makes life and traveling addicting adventures.


  1. I love this..... I have to say that u can take thos to a.lot of different aspects of life. Specially for a coaches wife who is on a interracial marriage with biracial children. I have to catch.myself sometimes because Bill was raised in St. Louis with a whole different life then myself the Iowa girl. I have learned that when one is truly right with God then they may be open to the acceptance of others. Enjoy ur time there. Take it all in. Keep pondering and keep blogging... I need a break from the kids and this is great reading material.

  2. Wow what a post KQ! You rock!!