Moving to a new town halfway across the United States over the course of the summer, one really can see the massive cultural differences that stretch across this land. Houston and Seattle are really as different as cities can be. One is humid, hot, and filled with a people who would epitomize those Protestants described in Weber’s Spirit of Capitalism, yet filled with an intense desire to stay indoors. The other is alive with the bitter scent of coffee, fairly cool, and whose people are laid-back, more to willing to enjoy themselves and spend significant amounts of time hiking or boating or various outdoor activities. Unfortunately for an IGC member, to say that I clashed significantly with the new Washington culture was an understatement, and over the course of the entire summer I never was able to understand such a laid-back and relaxed view of the world. Gradually turning inwards and focusing on matters such as work and reading, somehow this American grew to sympathize with a group of people halfway across the world who marched peacefully in the name of justice and liberty despite the fact that the cultural gap between Iranians and Americans dwarfs that between Texans and Washingtonians.
Being someone who has had an interest in the Iranians and their people, I somehow detached myself from my neighbors and those who surrounded me and paid constant attention to the protests waged in the name of a moderate reformer. Susbstantial amounts of time were spent reading every detail, raging at cable news for their incredibly negligent coverage of the events there, and helping the Iranian protestors, both through word and deeds (some of which could skirt the lines between legality and illegality, but that is another story). However, when unfortunately the protests, while not completely vanquished, had faded to some degree, it left me puzzled and amused with the fact that I had spent so much time caring about those halfway across the world with a culture that as observed above dwarfs the gaps between those from Texans and Washingtonians, and I came to puzzle about it. Was it because as I didn’t know personally know Iranians, I could romanticize their cultures and stay from the negative realities of it in a way that I couldn’t with Washington, and was it simply an inherent prejudice that I had towards Washingtonians and not Iranians. I’ll freely admit that I really don’t know the answer, and when it comes down to it, maybe something like this can help give an answer towards a better understanding of well, understanding others.
I guess that’s my story of the summer, and my major question that I learned from it out of the mundane life I generally held. So what other stories are out there in the end?