Wednesday, March 01, 2006

gosh - this got a bit political!


Well, despite my cheeky posts earlier in the month about gardening in our t-shirts, and despite the fact that we already have flowers blooming in our garden and palm trees growing on our front terrace, my village has experienced it's first proper snowfall in several years. Most winters see a few flurries that don't add up to anything, but for the first time in recent memory (that is - mine) the snow fell and LANDED!!

I was sitting doing some work at my computer and got up to get myself something to drink. When I looked out of the window I had to drop everything and go outside. It was a winter wonderland! The beaches were covered in snow, the cliffs were white, and within a few moments I was soaked through. It was glorious. Once it stopped falling it stayed on the ground for an hour or so. Usually snow here falls and melts immediately.

The trouble with this sort of weather is that this part of the country just isn't set up for snow. An inch fell three winters ago in London and people were trapped on the M25 highway for something like 18 hours. That scared the government a lot so now the briefest mention of snow brings out the Gritting Lorries (that's Salt or Sand Trucks to those of you across the pond.) It's difficult for me to understand all of this fuss coming from a country that is completely designed around snow - driving in it, staying warm in it, coping with moving it, and basically getting ON with it.

I spent the last two days at a training session for my job. They were trying to teach me how to be a salesperson and sell to British people. I realized all over again that I am not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I'm not from around here. I've lived here for so long that I have largely stopped noticing people's accents. I have stopped seeing everything as new and novel. I have become as comfortable here as I am in Canada. So often I forget that I am in ENGLAND. I am in another country. They do things differently here.

This global community that we are building is an amazing thing. We can fly all over the world and see fascinating and spectacular sights. We can live in another country and get along with people and speak different languages. We can talk over the internet, eat Japanese food at our corner restaurant, and argue over which team is going to win an Olympic event. We can coexist on the same playground. I think, however, that many people are forgetting that we are not all the same. We look the same - we can all bleed and cry and dance and love and sing. But those songs and those dances and the things that make us cry are different. So much of today's global news is about one country or even one man or woman who is trying to put their own values and their own needs onto another country or group of people. It happens in the UK, it happens in Canada, it is happening in countries all over Eastern Europe, it's happening within the E.U., it's happening in the Middle East. It's everywhere.

I guess I am just saying that I wish that the rulers and even the ordinary people of the world would just remember that they are all coming at each other from a different page. We need to remember that all of those pages bring baggage and confusion and laughter and misunderstandings and richness and diversity. I think that if we all just remembered that we are all fragile, we are all unique, we were all babies once, and that we are all just trying to figure it out, we'd all get along a lot better. Why do we find that so hard?

12 comments:

Karen said...

Meg- It looks like a winter wonderland. I can't believe my eyes!! :)

Jamie said...

Wow, palm trees with snow on them. I've never seen that! Your stories about how snow can shut down the place reminds me of a few years ago when Toronto had a major snowstorm and our mayor called in the army to help. People still laugh at us for that, especially people from Montreal!

What you're saying about the global community is so interesting, about the joys and challenges it creates. One of the things I love about Toronto is how diverse it is. I love that I can sit on a streetcar and hear all sorts of languages. If we can all feel connected as human beings and also be fascinated by our differences it will be a beautiful thing.

Caroline said...

Gosh you had snow that landed! In Bristol we've had lots of odd little flurries of hail and snow and just the tiniest smattering to wake up to this morning...

You are right that so many of us make the mistake of thinking our values / beliefs / needs are the same as everyone elses.

HoBess said...

Oh, Megg ... such a beautiful snowfall ... such a beautiful idea of the global playground. So interesting you chose a child-like analogy because I think that's exactly what makes it so hard. Have you ever watched kids who don't want to take turns? Kids who don't want to share? Kids who want everyone to play what THEY want to play? Sometimes I think we never truly outgrow these parts of our humanity and they play out on the global playground. All we can do is keep swinging until we finally do kick that miraculous hole in the sky.

Laini Taylor said...

Lucky Meg, snow! I kept hoping we'd get a proper snow this year but I think it is not to be. When we do get a decent snow it's like in England, we don't have enough plows to keep the roads open, people don't have tire chains unless they're skiers, etc. I never realized that was the case in England - I lived right across the channel in Belgium for two years and it was all snow, all winter. There must be parts of England that get a lot of snow, no?

And what you're saying about our differences is interesting -- I think people feel a great need to distinguish themselves from others... ironically, by identifying with some subset or other. You know, people want to belong to something that sets them apart from the mass of humanity, to have a niche, be it nationality or religion. I think we really ARE different in many ways, but we also manufacture difference arbitrarily. I was just reading the long article on Scientology in the new issue of Rolling Stone and that really sends that message home to me: people are so desperate to belong to something that sets them apart from and above other people, they'll believe the weirdest things. There are so many little things we place above our essential humanity in declaring who we are. Rather than being human first and Baptist second and American third, etc... (not me, I'm no Baptist) people will be Baptist first, to the extent that it creates a wall between themselves and other humans. (blah blah blah)

andrea said...

I love the photo of snow on the palm trees! There is the occasional palm tree here, too, but I think those who have them wrap them for winter. Interesting post, Megg, and I entirely agree about the global community thing. However, you can't paint all Canadians with the same brush re. snow. We west coast wimps haven't had a single real snowfall here all winter and when there's even an inch on the ground, all hell breaks loose. We are the laughing stock of the country.

Cate said...

Megg, I agree with so much of what you've said. My mother, who is from N. Ireland, often talks about assimilation--how, when she first arrived here, she was a novelty to the Americans to whom she was introduced, but people often became "threatened" by her differences--her accent, for one, esp. if they couldn't understand her. I think that much of that desire to get people to change comes from feeling threatened. That doesn't make it okay, but I think that that is sometimes, part of its origins.

"I think that if we all just remembered that we are all fragile, we are all unique, we were all babies once, and that we are all just trying to figure it out, we'd all get along a lot better." Well stated!

P.S. I hope you're having fun with the snow, but staying warm!

la vie en rose said...

amen! your thoughts are beautiful and i need the reminder. i need to remember that people see things and value things differently than i do and that the diversity really is what makes this world so incredible. i need to remember to look at things with different eyes other than my own.

M said...

Don't you love how they deal with snow over there?! it makes me giggle! I love your post today, I can totally understand where you are coming from. My poor fiancee gets so frustrated when people don't understand him over here! He's still trying to understand the fascination with hockey - he's a die hard football fan. And I'm sure you and your partner have moments when your nationalities make for interesting conversations, trying to navigate through each other's perspectives and views- or maybe that's just us! Sometimes we need an interpreter! thanks for reminding all of us about being different.(Oh, I tagged you too, hope that's ok.)

Kerstin said...

Well said, Megg!

I have always considered myself a "world citizen" - having spent half my life growing up in Germany, followed by 2 years in Canada, 15 in the UK, and travelling the world in between before moving to the US last September. If anything then all this moving about the globe has enhanced my awareness of our, mainly cultural, differences. Interestingly I consider the UK and even Canada more my home than Germany, and I know that I will never feel that way about the US.

You comments about the M25 made me laugh although at the time it made cry as I was one of those stuck in that jam! Isn't it amazing how an inch of snow, or leaves on the train tracks, can bring an entire city, and even country, to a halt?!!

A wonderful post. It made me miss England.

Take care, Kerstin

Caroline said...

I just noticed we put up comments in synch at Melbas!

Helen said...

It looks as though your village has been sprinkled with icing sugar - so pretty! After living in Sweden for 2 years with metres of snow, it always amazes me when I come home how England comes to a stand still at the slightest mention of snow!! Have you got enough for a snowman yet?! Helen