amanda knox…the lesson

The Ugly American

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When I was a schoolgirl, I’d hear the phrase “Ugly American” mentioned in and out of the classroom. That deprecating phrase would be tossed around in the news, and in conversations that attempted to ascertain what was meant.

Among natives of the Hawaiian Islands where culture was suppressed as we were ushered in as the 49th state in the union, prejudice against the white man simmered. A double-edged sword, statehood. There are those who would like Hawaii to secede and become a self-governing entity, just as some Texans envision happening in their state. I’m not one of those; I’m a little more pragmatic. I opt for the advantages…over the disadvantages.

What I am…is respectful of other cultures. It doesn’t mean I am without criticism of ways different from mine. We’ve all got a bit of the sinner and the saint in us. However when I walk among people on their turf…be it a neighborhood, a town, or a country…I’m wary. I’m mindful of my p’s and q’s.

Cosa mi fa ridere

Image by redbanshee via Flickr

Amanda Knox’s treatment at the hand of the prosecutor in the Perugian courthouse, is proof that the age-old stereotype of the “Ugly American” survives to this day. Americans and our western lifestyle are not always admired. A dose of humility should temper the overwhelming pride with which we seem to view ourselves.

Ugly Americans poster

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

…something we might want to teach our children…to help them…as they travel…and live…among others…


“walking a fine line”

Once in a while it’s good to step away from my own blog to visit others. There are so many on WordPress that are interesting and well written. And there are as many personalities as there are blogs. Each unique unto itself.

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The Worpress community repesents a microcosm of the world at large since its members are from all over the globe. The conversations run the gamut from religious beliefs to political persuasions to everyday life. Sometimes a blog includes a range of topics, like mine; sometimes there’s a particular focus, like a journal of one’s daily activities. What’s valuable to the writer, is what drives the blog. Otherwise what’s the point?

What fascinates me about the blog world is that we all coexist, side by side, with true freedom of expression, except for what might be deemed inappropriate by “management.” Except for a short period where I was mistakenly being spammed from leaving comments a month or so ago, I’ve not otherwise seen evidence of suppression by WordPress. Heck, they’ve even allowed some spams to come through for my deletion. Although they have fortunately prohibited more than 26,000, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Just as in life, bloggers can rally with others who seem like-minded. Many do. I have. I guess that’s how we form relationships as human beings. It’s comforting; it’s secure; it’s familiar. But what’s nice about WordPress is that we can step outside our comfort zone to “test the waters” without being “seen.” We can read others’ opinions, get a feel for who they are, and decide whether or not to engage in conversation. That’s not always easy to do in real life, without “getting into it” from the get-go.

I think most of us want to be part of the larger community. I don’t imagine too many prefer isolation. I know I don’t. When I first began this blog in July of 2010, I was hell-bent on writing. But I learned in time that while I had readers, most were not really interactive. They came and they left without leaving their imprint. So I worked at making connections by getting out and about. Leaving comments on others blogs, brought them to mine where they reciprocated. I’ve formed strong bonds with a few based upon respect, compassion and positive support.  

The Westboro Baptist Church picketing at the m...

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There’s a fine line between “telling it like it is” and expressing one’s opinions, I think.  Walking the line between both is difficult at best. Refusing to walk that line can mean isolation, a lone voice in the desert. I don’t think we were built to live like islands unto ourselves. Where are we when Mother Nature upends our lives like Katrina or Japan? To whom do we turn if our loved ones are wiped out in a tsunami, and we’re left alone having isolated ourselves from others?

8 12 09 Bearman Cartoon Freedom of Speech

As I’ve indicated, it’s hard to be true to one’s own self, while coexisting with others who feel as strongly about their own true selves. It’s a matter of give-and-take, compromise really, just as in any relationship, even political ones and religious ones. It really does come down to compromise. Being correct can be isolating.

Research still points to the fact that Alzheimer’s might be in my future since my mom suffered its effects for years before she died. That is an isolating disease. I don’t care to self-impose more years of isolation…

by not being open to compromise…hugmamma.