Living here is a constant challenge. It's a challenge to my faith, it's a challenge to my customs, and it's a challenge to the patriotic feelings I have for my country. I had to explain why the idea that 9/11 was an inside job was ludicrous to my 10th graders. I am spoken to about Christianity in a tone that seems to say, "that's so cute that you believe that...". I have started speeding.
And yet, I find myself defending this place to people back home. I get a twinge of irritation when I see things people write about the Kingdom. I write facebook comments and then decide not to send them because I know it would cause a thing. When I get home I know that I'm going to have some interesting conversations with people who think they know a lot about this place, but don't actually know a damn thing.
This has led me to a very strange conclusion: like Spock, I am a child of two worlds now. I have the burden of knowledge and experience that will never let me hear a news story about the USA without dreading what it will be. I won't be able to see an event like the "trial" of Islam in Florida without thinking immediately of my students and getting sad that after all I do to try and show them what a great thing America is, I get this. I will never be able to read the reports about protests in the Kingdom without seeing that no one really sees what's going on. When I get home, I know I'm going to be culture shocked. I'm going to shake hands with everyone a million times, drive too fast and honk unnecessarily, and just generally feel uncomfortable. This is going to be very strange.
So I have been completely changed by this experience and it's not even halfway over. I'm still Tyler, there's no doubt about that. I love puns, oreos, and a good, cold, dark beer (can you tell I'm excited for Berlin?). But my perspective has shifted and my understanding of who I am in relation to the rest of the world is different now and will always be.
I think you don't give Friedman enough credit. He specifically called out the nations that were historically countries, e.g. Egypt, and the ones that were drawn by lines on a map, e.g. Israel, Saudi, etc. I disagreed a bit with him on Kuwait, but only because I think they captured the tribe's territory pretty well. This dynamic is incredibly important. Remember, it's family, tribe, sect, Islam, and then everybody else.ReplyDelete
Apply that to Libya, and our current endeavor is really stupid.
Re: your last statement: couldn't that be part of the reason for this whole adventure? You & Amber wanted to experience another country/part of the world not just as tourists, but as a resident. You can't do that and not come away unchanged. Just don't be too hard on us slubs who stay in one spot forever, when you get here. Love you!!ReplyDelete