As I travel around New Zealand, I share kitchens and trails with people from all over the world. Signs in bathrooms remind people to flush used toilet paper, rather than throw it in the garbage can. Local newspaper comics imitate foreign drivers who are too busy looking at scenery to remember to drive on the left side of the road. Gas station convenience stores are stocked with mince pies. Even in this country where they speak my native language and have very similar culture, I have daily reminders of our quirky differences. Sure, we’re all the same when you get down to it, but sometimes our differences are what’s fun.
Musing from New Zealand
On the drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo I listened to a podcast about empathy and treating each other well. My favorite part was the discussion about the Pledge of Allegiance. In the U.S. we learn it at an early age and we recite it mindlessly, not sure what the flag stands for or our belief in God. What if, instead of that old-timey Pledge, we took a pledge to treat all people as if they’re us living another life? That’s the Golden Rule bumped up a notch. Instead of treating others as you want to be treated, treat someone as an extension of yourself. When we get down to the science, we’re all made of remnant pieces of stars. Whatever the cultural differences that save us from boredom and keep us entertained, we are all the same.