Living as a Village in an Individualistic Society (Part 2 of 2)

*If you did not get a chance to read Part 1, you can do so here.

A Swedish proverb, “Honor the house in which you were born, the tree that gave you shade, and the village where you were raised,” reflects the view of a village mentality being beneficial. Within my first post, I noted my views on the village mentality versus an individualistic one. In today’s post, I’m providing concrete examples of how people can live in a village while residing in an individualistic society.

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Will you stay behind the door, or will you enter out into the world and interact with those in the village?

Parking for me and none for you. In the recent weeks, our area experienced a snowstorm which lead to parking spaces needing shoveled throughout our city. Our family opted to buy a house that includes a driveway; however, not all of the houses on our block have driveways so some people must parallel park (note-worthy to mention the street is only one block long, so people do not have to walk very far when visiting homes on this ONE block). After parking spaces were shoveled out, the next week displayed an example of how we could have functioned more as a village than individuals. Snow was piled between some parking spaces, thus limiting the amount of spaces available on the street. I noticed over several days that as a guy would leave his house in the morning, his wife would drift her car forward in an effort to block off both of the parking spots so that no one else could park there all day. Now, I understand that people want a place to park when they arrive home, but here are a few of the issues that I have with that individualistic mindset: it is selfish, the guy is very young and physically capable of walking a few more feet if the spot is occupied when he comes home later that day, one of these spots is actually in front of our property and this family didn’t actually do any of the shoveling that many others completed when the storm occurred. A village mindset embraces looking out for one another and helping each other, even before one’s self.

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Living as a Village in an Individualistic Society (Part 1 of 2)

 

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Do you stay behind the glass door, or do you go outside and engage with the community around you?

For quite some time I have struggled with why members of society function in manners that seem somewhat selfish and uncaring. Searching for the reason, I have engaged in many conversations with people from different backgrounds, while pressuring myself to step outside of my comfort-zone. Growing up in the American society has generally lead me down the path that many in my generation (and I’d venture to say even more so with the younger generations) have entered – the path of individualism. We are searching for how to display our uniqueness, how to climb the corporate ladder the quickest, how to gain success in the easiest (perhaps read laziest) manner and at the end of the day, how to get what I want. Years before I became a parent, I believed in the African proverb quote, “It takes a village to raise a child,” yet it was only during the past few years that I actually began to live out that belief.

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Cuffs & Kids

 

I watched a video from the TODAY Show this evening. (View the video here.) Part of apple-256261_1920me thought about clicking to the next video and moving on, but my stomach began to turn and my pulse began to beat faster – I knew I had to write a post about that which wasn’t shared by the media during this report.

So, a general overview (if you didn’t watch the video)… the report focuses on the increased amount of students being cuffed inside schools and even having charges brought against them. Interviewees spoke of their concerns about the connection between handcuffing children and the way it makes the kids feel. The reporter provided data on the statistics of African American students and students with disabilities.

Now, let me just say a few things (and I am going to really control myself and not type 1,000,000 words because I think I could about this topic). I have taught for several years in a public school that was close to 100% African-American. I also spent even more years teaching only students with disabilities. So my experience lines up with the data that was given. It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of “data” because data can often be shaped and twisted to say whatever the researcher (or person paying money) wants it to say. There’s plenty of examples out there if you want to research that challenge. During my years of teaching, I saw students handcuffed and students restrained. Additionally, I was trained to perform restraints myself. Here’s my take on my personal experiences over several years where cuffs and kids were both inside the schools.

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Tips for a Multi-Cultural Marriage

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Throughout my marriage, there have been several times when I have gone to speak with friends about situations and they simply do not understand. These conversations can be simple: what one wears to a wedding, or complex: the history of faith and its roots in culture. Many times I end up frustrated because I feel like instead of having a friendly conversation, I am defending cultural views/beliefs. These experiences have lead me to develop tips for being in a multi-cultural marriage.

 

Hold on strong to the truths you know within your relationship. There will be times when people question elements of your marriage. Often it is because they come from a different culture and they do not understand beliefs within other cultures around the world. This can create friction, confusion and headaches. One small example that I quickly learned about in my marriage was the concept of framing favors as questions, or statements. In the American culture, we are taught that you are respectful of others by asking them to do something. If I was busy trying to prepare for company, I would ask my connected-1327191_1280husband, “Can you help with the dishes while I XYZ?” This bothered him so much and I could not understand why. Now, to be honest, it is still odd to me, but let me explain his cultural viewpoint. In my husband’s culture, you do not ask your family to do you a favor; you tell them to do it. As a family member, you are expected to do things to help the family unit as a whole and so one should not have to ask you to complete a task. Asking the family member to do a favor is seen as offensive because you are questioning if they are willing to do their part. This was far from my interpretation of the situation, but throughout the initial months, I attempted to retrain myself in how I phrased favors. I did not try to change it because my husband’s cultural view is correct and mine is wrong, but rather because the more valuable aspect was that I wanted my husband to know that I respect him and I did not wish for my wording to come across as otherwise. At times, you may find yourself wanting to shout at others, “What don’t you understand!?! Not all people have the same beliefs as your culture. That doesn’t mean one is more ‘right’ than the other.” (More examples of that in the next bullet point.) Instead of shouting statements like these, just focus on the truths that have been developed within your marriage. As long as the two of you understand where the other is coming from, or as long as you stand together despite your differences, this is all that matters. One of the many beauties in a multi-cultural marriage is that your children will be blessed with having a well-rounded view because they are exposed to different cultures and you can teach them the strengths within those varying cultures.

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Kind Words Warm Cold Days

 

It’s cold right now in our area as we trek through the winter months. Nevertheless, the cold weather never keeps us away from getting our shopping done at the local market. It was there, today, that kind words warmed up the cold day.

As we walked through the aisles in the market, a lady whom we know from there approached us. She told my husband, “I saw you on TV the other day.” They had a casual conversation about the report and then as we were parting ways, she said something so kind (and even though she doesn’t completely know my husband, it is oh so very true of him!). She explained that her previous career, until retirement, was as an elementary teacher and that the teachers would handle hard events in a delicate manner with the young students. In paraphrasing, she said, “When events like 9/11 happened, we would tell the small children that if anything bad happens, they should look for the ‘helpers’. We explained that these people will help to keep them safe and that would bring comfort to the students.” Then she concluded by placing her hand on my husband’s shoulder and saying in a solemn voice, “You are one of those people. You are a helper.” And with that, we all warmly smiled and parted ways.

This lady might not know my husband, but she is completely correct! He is a helper. He is a safe person. He is the one that keeps the peace. The one who calms others. The person people turn to when their worlds feel out of control, or even just slightly uneasy. God gave him a special gift and he humbly exerts it each day as he interacts with everyone – from family members, to a newly arrived refugee, to coworkers, to a random stranger on the street. And during these challenging days, that dear lady in the market offered the kindest words that warmed this cold day. Thank you!

 

Ahmeli… that we don’t shy away from saying something kind to someone we pass, even if we do not know them well. You may never know the impact of your words.

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Because Sometimes You Have Already Said It…

Tonight I am sitting in my living room, as Little One sleeps upstairs and my husband is working. I am reflecting on his job. I am reflecting on a meeting I attended this week. I am reflecting on the recent/upcoming government announcements. I am reflecting on my experiences with specific populations. I am reflecting on Biblical teachings. I am reflecting on questions that come my way. I am reflecting on questions that I send out there. So, there should be lots that I have to say tonight and in a way there is; yet, at the same same time, there isn’t because sometimes you have already said it…. (View link)

Ahmeli… that we would listen to one another’s differences with ears of understanding, mouths of wisdom, eyes of openness, and hearts of understanding.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!