I grew up in a little bit of paradise in Palos Verdes Estates, CA. It is a peninsula that sits right south of Los Angeles-about an hour drive away. I had an idyllic childhood. Great friends, every single one of my schools was across the street from the ocean, we played sports, went to the beach as much as we could, and lived in a little bubble. After my freshman year of high school we moved to Zurich, Switzerland where I would finish out my high school years. Here was a little Southern California girl now living in a foreign country. My eyes were opened. There was a world that I had only read about coming alive right before me. I went to the American International School of Zurich. In my graduating class of 36 people, there were 23 different nationalities. It was quite an adjustment, but I loved it.
We would study about Michelangelo's Pieta and then be able to hop on a train and go see it. We went numerous places all over Europe. It was wonderful. While I always did miss California and my dear friends there, I could tell that I was changing. I was no longer the same person I was in CA. I had learned so much about other cultures and social mores. I learned to appreciate and respect other religions and beliefs. I no longer saw the world through a tunnel.
In college I was able to go on a study abroad program in Jerusalem for 6 months. Another experience that changed what I had thought of certain cultures and religions. All I read and heard in America about the Palestinians was completely different from what I was experiencing with them. They were kind and friendly and invited you into their home to eat and watch the children dance. We were complete strangers, and yet they had such open arms. My opinions and preconcieved ideas were changing again.
Fast forward to now. I have no idea when we will ever be able to do something like this again. I so feel so blessed that for now my children's eyes have been broadened. The world is bigger to them now and it is changing them. There is not much here that is like America. They are embracing the culture and people here. The bottom line is they now know there is something more in the world. Stop buying furniture. Don't buy a new car. Buy clothes on sale. Budget groceries. Don't go out as much. Start saving little by little and do anything you can to let them experience the world and become aware. I know we will be eating Mac n Cheese for a while when we get back!! (there also are plenty of areas where we live --little sub-cultures that exist where we can get involved and learn new things from them.)
I was reading in my all time favorite book again this morning, "The Rhythm of Life" by Matthew Kelly. Everybody needs to read this book. It is a great book club book. (Make sure you have a pen to mark it up!)
"How do you see the world? What is your perception of the world? The great danger is for us to fall into the trap of believing that the whole world is like the city we live in. Most people think they have a pretty good grip on reality, a fairly broad view, but sometimes our view of reality can become distorted. How do you perceive the world?
You see...if we reduced the world's population to one hundred people, proportionally...
57 of those 100 people would be from Asia. 21 would be from Europe. 14 from N and S America, and 8 from Africa.
51 would be women, 49 would be men.
68 of those 100 people would not be able to read and write
6 of those 100 people would own and control more than 50% of the world's wealth. All of those six people would live on the north shore of Long Island...on the same street. ( book was written in 1999)
Only 1 of the 100 people would have gone to college. How do you perceive the world? Maybe in your world everybody goes to college, but on planet Earth only 1 out of 100 goes to college.
One third of the world is dying from lack of bread. One third of the world is dying from lack of justice.
This is the way I see it. Life comes down to two simple realities. People were made to be loved, and things were made to be used. Your problems, my problems, and indeed all the world's problems come from our misunderstanding of these two simple principles. You see...we love things and we use people. It would not be too much to dedicate one's whole life to the reversal of these simple realities. Love is our greatest desire-to love and be loved. It is the central precept and principle of every religion. It is the answer to every question. It is the solution to every problem. The answer is never to love less. The answer is always to love more."