Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thinking Globally

Reaction to Osama's Death

Since my wife and I do not have cable tv (Netflix streaming & Hulu+) we do not have the constant onslaught of news coverage or the persistent bombardment of commercial consumerism. I get my news from certain online sources and by listening to the news on my commute to and from work.  However, when there is a breaking story, like the announcement of Osama's death, I found out when I checked Facebook on my iPhone. The thing that I found most striking in the posts was the reactions.

There were two kinds of posts that I found most disheartening. The first was the false sense of relief that the war on terro has reached it's climax and we can now bring our troops back. The other was the taunt-like tone in some of the posts that celebrated the death of Osama.  I still remember being woken up by my mom to turn on the news on September 11th. I still remember how the country became briefly patriotic.  To be honest, it was nice to feel like we were all America! 

Cultural Happy Meals

We are two days from Cinco de Mayo, a day we narcissistic Americans assume is the Mexican independence Day (it's actually September 16th), and this is just a small example of how we have boxed up the rest of the world's cultures.  We have placed gross generalizations on populations of peoples that are older, more diverse, and more populated than ours.  What does it say about Americans when we don't even respect our closest neighbors?  We have boiled Mexico's culture down to a burrito and a talking Chihuahua in a Taco Bell commercial.  The most constant Mexican influence we have is George Lopez.  

I don't quite want to wrap this up in a nice bow.  I'd like to get some feedback on this question: How do you raise children who will be conscious of their global community?  I will post about how my wife and I are trying at a later time, but I want to know if anyone will respond in the comments below.  How do we teach our children to sift through the consumerism, the stereotyping, and the categorizing to find their true place in the world, and to become a global citizen of the human race?  What are you doing, have you done, or are planning on doing?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts.



  1. I, too am free of the relentless onslaught of Cable TV foolishness thanks to Netflix & Hulu, and likewise got word of OBL’s demise first from Facebook. Of all the many responses I saw, the one from an old family friend stood out in my mind:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one. Not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate only multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." Martin Luther King Jr.

    I only hope that our children can grow up in a world where more people follow the direction of loving people like Rev. King.

    Regarding the education of our kids to be citizens of the world, I gotta tell ya that this one has been tough. I live in San Antonio, one of the largest Hispanic-majority cities in the US, and with my kids having a cultural heritage of being a quarter Hispanic, and they don’t hear a whole lot about Cinco de Mayo, either from school or in the news. A quick search of the mysa.com shows another “Fiesta” type party involving beer, music, and face-painting. Not much in the way of cultural education.

    It seems to be a function of our society that we want to fit cultural diversity into a nice little package and be done with it. I’m glad there is a Black History Month, but what can be done to continue the education year-round? Most textbooks come up short, not just for African-American but most other cultures as well. My kids & I watch the “I Have a Dream” video every January 15th. We talk about MLK’s legacy, we read about Cesar Chavez’s contributions, and what people like Mother Teresa have done to better the world. Is it going to make a difference? I hope so, but I’m not sure. Our media and pop culture gets its’ laughs off of the caricatures of other races & cultures, often at the hands of the George Lopez’s and Chris Rocks (or, heck, Larry the Cable Guy’s). Whatcha gonna do?

    Good luck with your mission – I look forward to read about what you and other readers are doing to make a difference. It has to start somewhere.

  2. I'm encouraged by our youth, when you take a step back were are one generation beyond the riots, lynchings, and pre-MLK. As our society has become more ethnically diverse, I have seen our society embrace other cultures. When I was a kid I didn't even know that the word Muslim existed. Not it is a common every day utterance.

    As my children get older I hope to be able to introduce them to other cultures, until then we will have to do our best right here in our back yard.

  3. We haven't discussed this week's news much in our home with our 7 yo. But in terms of raising his global awareness, one of the things we've done each year at his birthday party is to encourage him to invite his party guests (classmates & friends) to make donations to global causes. Whirlwind often offers suggestions like one year it was donations to the victims of the earthquakes in Haiti, but mostly he simply asks his guests to choose a cause that's important to them. Of course, he still receives gifts from us and from family. ;-)

    In our home when talking about the world around us, my wife and I really try to steer the conversation to "What happened and what can we do to help?"