We are from the Dominican Republic. We are from the Philippines. We are from many different countries in Africa and Latin American and Central America. Our worlds are local and global. What happens in our neighborhoods often has a connection to what happens thousands of miles away. Our technology creates the instant culture which connects us all, or does it?
One of our earlier connections to the world was the fear of nuclear war in the 1950s and 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961. This is where we discovered that Russia had put missiles in Cuba 90 miles off the coast of Florida; we came very close to nuclear war. Our thinking about American relationships around the world continued to develop.
In the 1970s, we experienced our first energy crisis. The gas lines were long and we were told that there was not enough oil. Some of us were not able to drive our cars and the Middle East, as the greatest producer of oil coming to our country at the time, increased its connection to our place in the world.
Over the last 30 years, our involvement in wars and a world financial crisis or two has increased our attention to the world. There is some international connection to almost everything that happens in our neighborhood from the availability of jobs to where food comes from to where most of our clothes are made in China or some other country in Asia. We must think and understand globally if we are to act responsibly locally!
So, what does that mean in terms of actions in our daily lives? First, we need to be more welcoming of people who come to America from different countries. When I have traveled to the Philippines and Nicaragua and other places, the great hospitality of my hosts is beyond compare. No matter what they think of American government and politics, I have been treated with great kindness. We need to do the same with our friends from other countries.
We are all still learning about our place in the world. You call for some service through a company and you may end up talking to someone in India. You buy a shirt and it could be from Honduras or Thailand. Often our politicians challenge the idea of a global village and interdependency. They promote “American exceptualism.” The present use of this term relates to America as first in the world in everything! This creates an arrogance that promotes divisions by race and ethnicity and religion and class…
We must fight against this and desire the beauty and education of cultural diversity in all of its wonder. Happiness, relaxation, focus and other areas are all to be learned from one another.
Ironically, the greatest tool to open the world to us is technology. It can unite or divide us depending on how it’s used. Instant information and instant friendship can possibly overcome all barriers of differences. But, some researchers believe that we are more isolated from one another because of technology. Think about walking along the streets of Allentown or Philadelphia as hundreds and thousands of people are on their cell phones ignoring the world around them.
Most low income families are not connected to the internet. And there is so much information available that we are unable to discern what is true and what is false. Freedom and equity of technology will go a long way in bringing all of us closer together and building community. It is a real hope for the future.