Where are you from?
Through travel you’re sure to meet countless people from countless countries around the world. A common conversation opener between new people is “Hey, where are you from?” As you tell countless people what your home country is your bound to get different reactions from different people. A certain percentage of people will react positively to your country, some will act indifferent and you’ll be able to detect some negative opinions from others. Through all these interactions it’s easy to form judgments about different countries like “Canadians are generally like this, and Americans typically act like this and People from the UK usually think this way,” ect. It’s easy to feel a division between countries at times. I’ll admit as a Canadian I often feel a rivalry towards Americans. It’s easy to feel an ‘us Vs them’ mentality when there’s groups of Canadians and Americans together. While it’s usually all fun and games between my friends, there still is loads of hostility and negativity in the world with this “our people Vs your people” idea. Even here in China where everyone is from the same country there is still loads of racism between the different Chinese minority groups that exist.
Logically we all know that you can’t judge all people by what country they are from because everyone’s unique… but we also can see how in general people who are raised in different countries do have different ideas, different ways of thinking and different ways of looking at things.
So where is the common ground? What makes us get along with some people and be unable to relate to others? Does it really matter what country we come from? Or is it something else?
It’s all about values
I believe the thing that determines how well we get along with something, the thing that can be passed down to individuals depending on where they come from in some cases… or be completely based on the individual themselves in others, is the values in which that person holds.
I think a person’s values… that is… what you believe in and feel passionate about is the single most important factor in how well they will get along with someone else. Two people can be from warring countries with instilled preconceived hate towards each other. But if they have the time to learn that they hold similar values they won’t be able to help feeling a connection and a respect for one another.
People of some countries are taught to value certain things higher than others which is why it’s easy to see how “people from a certain country generally act in certain ways.” But a person’s values are always free to be determined by the individual themselves which is why you will always meet loads of exceptions to the rule.
It’s not where we’re from
It’s not the things we are born into that make us who we are, it’s the things we believe in and the things we do. Often so much of a person’s self image is determined by their home country or their ethnicity. The flag you were born under was not of your choice. You didn’t have to work to be born in a certain country and because of that there’s no reason to let your opinion of yourself be affected by it. The view you have of yourself should not be influenced by things that occurred outside of your control. Only that which you do and create yourself should matter.
If you must judge someone, don’t judge them by the country they are from but judge them by the values they hold.
“The world is my country, and my religion is to do good.”
People often see patriotism to their country as a good thing, but really all it does is help create more separation in the world. Patriotism helps bring about an “our country is better than all the others” outlook and adds to the many problems our world faces. It’s good to believe in your fellow people, but don’t be patriotic to your country, instead be patriotic to your countries values if you agree with them.
If we want to improve our standards of life it will be much easier to accomplish if we all work together towards a common goal. The more countries compete and try to gain advantages over each other, or fight for resources or war over ideas the less progress we will make.
View the entire world as your country. See yourself as a citizen of the earth rather than of a specific country. Get out there and travel, experience other countries, make them your home for a while, connect with people who have never visited your home country and help them see the positive values you share. Drop the mentality that being born in a certain country makes you better or worse than anyone else. Instead take a look at your values and make sure the things you believe in and act upon are having a positive effect on the world.