Today was a day of travel and it was also a day of reflection. It wasn’t until I reached Miami that I realized the profound journey on which I was embarking. It made me think about culture and if people really have unique cultures. For example, if someone was born and raised in Scotland, does that make him Scottish? What if his parents were from China?
The subject of cultures reminds me of a movie – Smokey and the Bandit. In the movie “The Bandit” falls for a girl from New York, but he is from Atlanta. As they talk, they discover that they have little in common because of regional differences. For example, he likes country music, she likes pop music; he likes NASCAR, she prefers the ballet. As I shuttled through Bogotá tonight, I wondered if the term “cultural” is incorrect. In Bogotá, I see Chevys and Fords on the road, a Marriott up above, and a TGIF and a McDonald’s from the roadside. It seems a lot like the United States. Of course, this is just a first impression; so it’s subject to change, but I’d argue that what we really have is regional differences and over time the world will become more homogeneous. The other thing I realized is that in countries where people are free, ambition and production follow. So are people really that different just because they live in a certain country?
Tonight, I met some of my colleagues. They hail from India, Hungary, South Africa, China, Japan, Italy, and Canada. We instantly connected. It reminded me of spending my first night in college. We had pizza, libations and great discussion. We are a diverse group and will be working in a country we are unfamiliar with, but when the focus is what brings us together, as opposed to what makes us diverse, great things can be achieved. Maybe it’s time to leave our tribal roots behind and participate in a human experience instead. There is so much beauty in the world and from the glimpse I’ve seen of Colombia so far, some of it is just outside my door. We know that life is short, and yet, we create so much friction between ourselves and others. We complain about the process but take no action. We abhor change, but it’s one of the few things that is constant. I’m not sure where this experience will lead me to in the next 30 days, but asking questions and finding meaning is a good place to start.
(This is part of the lost blog collection. It was originally scheduled to be published August 20, 2016.)