Really, this is how the brain works, too. It creates connections between what we already know and links these connections to new, incoming information.
It is always interesting to me to realize how people are connected. Friends of mine have met or even been friends with well-known or prominent people. And almost half the people in my church are related either biologically, through marriage or adoption.
The idea of a chain of six acquaintances connecting us to every person on Earth is an easy concept to accept in our world of travel and social media.
Without even leaving this country, I have known people from South Korea, the Philippines, China, Palestine, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Some were students who planned to return to their native lands. Others had made this country home.
The average American today meets far more people than before the emergence of “Wanna get away?” prices for airfare and electronic communications.
Between my family and close friends, we have been to at least 20 countries. Mix in the people I know professionally who travel internationally for work or pleasure and I feel safe saying the list would grow to include the majority of Europe and Asia.
We have made connections with these countries. In fact, one of my friends has been informed by a family in England that if she should ever want to visit, their home is open to her. She met them in Italy while working with an international church.
The few times I have been out of the country I enjoyed experiencing the food, music and activities of another place.
Each experience provided opportunities to compare and contrast new experiences with what I had known.
There are countries I would still like to see, although I am not currently doing much to make it happen.
Travel for me is one of those things that presents itself more than gets pursued. Italy and Germany are pretty close to the top of my list.
I have always loved Italian food. I married a man who loves Italian food — only he has the advantage of knowing what’s “authentic.” Since both he and my sister have been to Italy, I am always hearing about what makes “real Italian food.”
Germany is for different reasons. My dad’s side of the family is from Germany. I’m not sure how far back the lineage can be traced, but the men in his family sometimes use German greetings as a nod to their heritage. My uncle went to Germany several years ago and brought me back a miniature replica of a famous castle there. I love castles.
Again connections are so interesting. Bradley County has an international company headquartered in Germany gearing up for production.
As technology has created a new era of globalization, some have worried that our culture will be lost. I submit that “the American way of life” cannot be lost because it is continually changing in innovative ways.
The fact that we live in a globally connected world should not be cause for alarm, but cause for excitement.
It should bring excitement at the ease of being able to learn about other countries’ cultures, people, music and — best of all — food.
It should bring excitement over finding new ways to connect with others while preserving the traditions important to us.
American culture is to a large degree a mixture of elements borrowed from other countries.
Even the icons of hot dogs, hamburgers and apple pie have roots in other cultures. I feel those cultures would quickly say we have changed them and made them our own.
Unique American culture is more a culture of ideas than one of things. Realistically, there seem to be very few things that say “made in the U.S.A.”
Instead, when someone speaks of the “American way of life” they often speak of freedom, hard work and perseverance, and of a system that gives people hope they can accomplish more, be more and know more than those who went before them. This is the essence of “The American Dream.”
This “way of life” should not feel threatened by different ways of doing things, by different skin colors or nationalities. It isn’t threatened by those things because that is who we are. From the very beginning of the colonization of the “New World” that resulted in the ultimate formation of the United States, this land was rich with cultural diversity. Diversity that has influenced anything we call “American” today.
Much like the Romans, Americans have embraced and adapted traditions of other cultures, merging them to create something new. Individual cultures have also remained intact. As a teenager I remember when my family would drive in downtown Baltimore and pass the “Little Italy” sign. I always thought it was really neat to have a little Italian culture right in our town.
American culture is a culture of change because we each embrace what we like and adopt these things into what we already know. Yet, I have the freedom to be different, to preserve the values and traditions I hold dear.
A globally connected world can seem overwhelming and easy to get lost in. Yet, for me a globally connected world means I will never run out of reasons to ask, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?”