It Is Racist to Consider a Culture Beneath You — 7 Takeaways No. 77


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1. “It is racist to consider a culture beneath you.”

Racism in Africa: It’s Not What You Might Think – Julia Hubbel – (Walkabout Saga blog)

This is an eye-opening essay on something that, honestly, I’d never thought that deeply about. Western culture, and the values of western tourists (and perhaps others) have dramatically altered behavior in some parts of Africa, and not in a good way.

It is racist to make assumptions that a child by the roadside needs anything from you simply because in YOUR culture he appears too skinny. It is racist to give handouts to people without giving the slightest thought to what such handouts will do to a culture. It is racist to assume that the local culture is inferior to yours for any reason whatsoever. If anything, that culture may have a great deal to teach you and me.

There are certainly issues in Africa, and elsewhere, but the kids racing to beg, or even demand handouts from tourists? They were trained to do so … by preceding tourists.

Do this: Try not to judge others by your values. In fact, try not to judge others.

2. “What kind of attention you pay to the world determines what you find in it.”

We find what we look for – Austin Kleon – (Blog)

In an age of short attention spans fueled, if not outright trained by social media, it’s easy to overlook that attention is more than quantity. Quality matters. How we pay attention, and what we choose to pay attention to, shapes our view of the world to a degree that’s easily overlooked.

“The world we experience,” McGilchrist writes in The Matter with Things, “is affected by the kind of attention we pay to it.”

Do this: Pay attention to how you’re paying attention.

3. “A ‘crisis’ is not our unavoidable fate.”

The Two Choices That Keep a Midlife Crisis at Bay – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

The choices are amazingly simple:

  • Choose to focus on what age gives you, not what it has taken away.
  • Choose subtraction, not addition.

I’m fortunate in that I think I’m relatively good at the first. The second is more of a challenge. Smile

Do this: Embrace your aging. As my dad used to say, it beats the alternative.

4. “The well-behaved rarely make history.”

Courage is Calling – Ryan Holiday – (eBook)

Not that this is always a good thing.

I’m finding this an interesting read. While not everything applies to my life (not sure I have a goal to “make history”), it does lay out an interesting picture of what courage is, and is not. It also does a good job of outlining its relationship to fear, and, as the takeaway above illustrates, the resulting decisions and behaviors we might take on.

Do this: Recognize your own courage. My guess is there’s more of it than you realize.

5. “Supporting students who are working to make their lives better.”

What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About Student Loans – vlogbrothers – (YouTube)

Fascinating short video with information, as in data, about the characteristics of the student loan situation. How many, the average, how many haven’t or didn’t graduate, how those with more debt are more likely to follow through and pay it off, and more. What got my attention were some concrete steps upstream of the debt issue to help students make better decisions and follow through on them. Thought provoking.

Do this: Realize that student debt forgiveness is, like so many things, not a simple issue, no matter what side of the thought you’re on.

6. “A simple delineation between domestic and foreign news no longer makes sense.”

World Matters – Dan Rather, Elliot Kirschner – (Steady newsletter)

Maybe it’s my own slightly international background of Dutch heritage, Canadian birth, and US residency, but I’ve always been keenly aware of how, outside of things clearly affecting the United States directly in the short term, international events get comparatively little attention in our news media. Rather lays out various thoughts on why that is: a combination of cost and the competition for eyeballs and revenue. In other words: money.

Over the course of our history, whenever we have turned inward as a country, we have faltered. Seeing, grappling with, and trying to understand our world through a global lens may be more critical today than ever before.

I agree, especially since the world is getting so much smaller every day. The good news is that the same trend makes it easier than ever to proactively seek out more comprehensive sources of news and information.

Do this: Be proactive. Choose your sources of information with care.

7. “Don’t read it! Don’t watch it!”

Penguins, surfers and one really big plant – AJ Willingham – (CNN’s Good Stuff newsletter)

Sometimes my worlds collide. This is a newsletter I subscribe to for material for Not All News is Bad. And, as has happened so often, this takeaway is not from the newsletter proper, but the introduction.

I will repeat, for the hundredth time, one of my favorite pieces of news advice for hard times: Don’t read it! Don’t watch it! Close your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Take a walk outside. Sit down with a good book. Laugh with a friend. You do NOT have to be constantly plugged in to be a well-informed, responsible citizen.

I suspect there’s an argument for it making you a better-informed, responsible citizen.

Do this: Unplug for a while.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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