How do you see the world?
I am paraphrasing an article in the Christian Science Monitor saying that 2015 was a lousy year with the news being a nonstop stream of terrorism, injustice, grieving, burying, and accusing. Ignorant armies continuing their fighting. There was way too much religious, ethnic and racial antagonism.
It then went on to report other news in 2015. In the U.S., violent crime remained at a 20-year low while homelessness decreased by 10.5% since 2007. Worldwide, emissions of greenhouse gases fell slightly; infant mortality was at a new low of 32 deaths per 100,00 births; there were 200 million fewer hungry people since 1990 in spite of there being two billion more of us; less than 10% now live in extreme poverty; literacy has declined; female empowerment has advanced; and life expectancy continues to grow.
Apparently, this is not enough to override the bad news.
I see the world and the people in it as complex, confusing, contradictory, alive, messy, interesting, changing, wonderful and hopeful. Within all those adjectives are the judgmental ones of good or bad, evil or holy, progressive or conservative, loving or hateful, patriot or traitor; the labels which are helpful but too often are used as the full and judgmental explanation of people and situations.
All the good stuff is the result of thousands of years of human struggling through the ups and downs, wanting our lives and the world to be better and, by most measurements, they are.
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I talked about the Ecuadorian air kiss not too long ago and because I have learned a bit more, I want to pass it on. The word “air” means what it says. You kiss the air, never the cheek, as had been my habit over the years. A kiss on the cheek is offensive and yucky and a woman will discreetly wipe it off as well as avoid face-to-face situations with the offender in the future. I also learned that the air kiss is not an automatic greeting but depends on the closeness of the relationship as well as the circumstances of an encounter.
A hug, defined as the hands on the back of the other person, is not part of the air kiss greeting. Again, the nature of the relationship determines its use. So, as a gringo, I try to have the woman determine what happens. Although my teacher Maria Elena tells me it is all right for me to initiate the air kiss, I will want to be much more comfortable in this society before trying it. And my belief that we need to hug each other more will need to be limited to gringos.
My acclimation slowly continues.
Cuídense. With my love, Dave