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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick-maker

Had a crazy thought today. I should just buy a plane ticket to a country, India maybe, or Brazil, the UAE or Morocco. Hop on a plane with a carry on, a one way ticket, and an extra passport photo. Wander the noisy streets, taste the pungent foods, listen to the familiar sounds of unfamiliar languages, and smell the memories that take me home. Experience in 3-D what it means to be lost in a country I've never been but that awakens all my senses and settles me into a welcoming embrace.

I'm facing the possibility of committing myself to 5 more years living in one place with very little extra money which may mean I will not have the luxury of traveling during that time. It frightens me to my very soul. Perhaps it is the restless TCK in me that is best appeased when booking flights and exchanging currency.

I was listlessly scrolling through a series of responses to a post on consumerism when one caught my eye. A fellow classmate earnestly shared a worldview that came from a very different angle than the others were saying. Only one other person caught and responded but I instantly resonated. It was not because we came from similar backgrounds but because I understood him in his difference.

The multicultural kaleidoscope of experience when set against a monocultural background must of necessity clash. A monocultural experience is challenged to stretch beyond its understanding; it finds meaning within strictly delineated guidelines. The multicultural experience, on the other hand, finds meaning best when it is given freedom to explore, to learn, and to allow for understanding between structured worlds. This land of liminality is uncertain yet its foundation is a beautiful heterogeneity of tension, synchronicity, and jarring of worldviews.

I am restless whenever I feel bound to respond, to react, to embrace, and to exemplify a blandly dictated worldview that defines others as "aliens" and is too obtuse to pronounce the word "Iran" correctly. Their priorities are sports cars, revival and reformation, or holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Mine are feeding orphans, educating teenagers, and investing in the lives of those I love.

Maybe I have been a little harsh. After all, each of us are entitled to our worldview and to prioritizing what we value. This is why America works; even if we disagree we must allow freedom to choose for when we start to dictate we lose self-autonomy. I rage against what seems useless yet I am not without fault myself. I will not apologize for my discomfort with prejudiced monoculturalism, however. There is no excuse for ignorance.

Wilkens and Sanford (2009) remind us that our identity is "intimately linked with the actual particularities of our lives" (p. 146). My identity is part of my worldview and the linking of reality as I alone have experienced it with who I have become and continue to grow into is a startling thought. Will it become stagnant as I limit myself to a few acres for the next five years? How will I conciliate the yearning to step off a plane into a sensory explosion of wonderment that pulls and stretches my worldview so thin it reflects a myriad of cultural colours?

For now I must be content to remember and wait for encounters of differing worldviews within which a moment of understanding occurs and my passport takes me away once more.

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