I blogged a couple of weeks later (click here) about the poverty in other countries, and I think it improves on this, as it is a related thought. I admit that I lack very comprehensive knowledge about these things, but probably most of us know that we Americans have a ridiculous life. I think most of my assumptions are pretty safe.
I got thinking as an elderly East Indian lady walked through the park behind our house this afternoon: there are features about the people of most cultures of the earth that are admirable, worthy to be imitated, even though they may come about by necessity rather than choice; even though if those people had any realistic choice they might have changed to be more American in their ways...or not, if they thought of all the ramifications.
These are some ways that I admire other cultures:
1. Many of them are oblivious to stylish clothing. This is probably mostly from necessity, for lack of a mall on every third corner because there is no money to support such things; but probably somewhat from realizing how wasteful it is to discard clothing just because of what others might think rather than because it isn't useful any more.
2. Most of them eat more wholesome diets than ours. This is probably mostly from necessity or lack of opportunity to fill their plates with Burger King Whoppers and french fries. Anyway, it has its impact on their health in that they are less prone to heart disease, diabetes and all those diet-related illnesses.
3. Most of them get more exercise than we do. However, if they had more cars, they probably would drive more often than they do at present. They would probably think it was ridiculous how many Americans pay for memberships in fitness clubs and then spend most of the next year wishing they had time to use them.
4. Most of them live more simply than we do in every regard. I wonder whether they would keep their lifestyles rather than trade them for our consumerism-driven ways. Strangely, I often envy the thought of living in a hut with hardly anything. And yet, I sure enjoy having my daily showers and running water, besides electricity and heat. And internet. Still, I want to simplify--or at least, get simple. (That is, I sure wish someone else would do the work of getting my life simplified for me! That job is...complex.)
5. (A culmination of some of the previous points) Their countries aren't the biggest importers of all sorts of garbage-destined little useless plastic trinkets, fads, disposables, and other junk.
6. Their time and money isn't consumed by entertainment and (watching others play) sports, and the salaries of their people hopefully aren't as upside-down in this regard as ours are.
These are ways I don't admire other cultures, or other countries:
1. Many of them don't have freedom to worship as they please; in fact I got an e-mail today that advertised a shirt that would be illegal in 51 countries--because it has the Christian cross on it. I sure hope this is a freedom that lasts in our United States; but then, in those countries where Christianity is illegal, you generally know that someone who admits to, or claims, being a Christian is...really a Christian. Besides, in areas of persecution, Christianity seems to spread all the better.
2. Many of them, even if they do have freedom to worship as they please, don't have much access to the Bible and the truth of Christ. I think that we Americans could be considered in part at fault for that, while we spend so much money on sports and entertainment and stylish clothes and plastic trinkets, disposables, and other junk that could be spent on Missions. On the other hand, I think I've heard that Americans do send a phenomenal amount of financial and other help to other countries, either in the name of Christ or otherwise...so there are at least two ways to view that issue.
3. Many of them have their lives, their livelihoods, their opportunities in life, determined to one extent or another by their government.
4. Many of them have no freedom to raise their children as they please, or in China, even to choose to have more than one child. In many countries, homeschooling is illegal or unthinkable while at present in the United States it is legal in every state.
5. Most other countries lack the basic medical care that our country offers, and many areas of the world lack basic needs such as clean drinking water.
I'm sure there are more aspects that would fit into both lists, but for now these are the things that come to my mind. I am thankful to live in a country with such great freedoms and such livability as we have, but I wish I for one were better at making decisions that were more like those features I admire. I think I'm learning, little by little.