Monday, May 09, 2011

people are people, but

This is deeply frustrating and now the fourth time I am trying to summon up this post. While the post date doesn't match with the Blogger downtime, the downtime coincides with when I actually finished writing this post. I am not going to waste much on smooth delivery or finely crafted sentences or even spell-checking my work (as if I ever do), since I just want to get this posted.

My post, in bullet format:
* People are people, for the most part, regardless of where they are from.
* Amusing work anecdote about diversity, dubious relevance to point.
* People are still people, but have a blind spot.

People are people. This is a sentiment I have expressed several times before. Much if it in recent years has been shaped by my travels, largely made possible by work and a willingness to simply go wherever they want to send me. By and large, people are people and want the same basic things. They want a means to satisfy their needs and a reasonable number of their wants. Of course, wants vary widely and are significant when it comes to someone's happiness and fulfillment. However, most people who are not interested in world domination have relatively straightforward wants. You're of course welcome to disagree with me on this, but this is my position.

Work has afforded me to opportunity to meet and speak and learn from people from a large portion of the world. Combined with the diversity of the Bay Area and this just feels rather normal to me to be around varied groups. At the last conference-room meeting I attended in Gabon, the others in the meeting aside from myself were from Ecuador, France, Italy, Cameron, Gabon, Ivory Coast (born there, but I think he was French-Lebanese), Syria, and Egypt. While perhaps more varied than a typical meeting, it was also not even noteworthy (unless you're incredibly excited about supply chain restructuring). Amongst any reasonable group of people, most of them are just people looking to celebrate their respective independence days, enjoy home-cooked food, and get excited about soccer rivalries. However, I find they often have a very specific blind spot.

People are people, but they are often ignorant or in denial about the past (and present) misdeeds and problems of their home country. It's perhaps hard to fully explain this, but people are often very defensive about perceived slights against the homeland. Some are willing to admit to problems, but many are not able to rationally discuss any of the seamier parts of their nation's history. I once tried to discuss the Armenian Genocide with a Turkish colleague. It was not a very long conversation. Am I thrilled by the less-than-glamorous aspects of American history? Of course not, but I am willing to discuss them and acknowledge where historic injustice has occurred and where the present-day situation is out-of-balance. We should actively engage and discuss the worst parts of our histories because they are excellent places to learn from.

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