A Cultural Lesson Learned from San Miguel de Allende

As my work hours in merchandise management increase, Ted graciously took the blog for me today and, WOW, was that the greatest gift ever. Not just for me in how it lessened my workload, but also for you, dear readers, as what he has to say here is so deeply meaningful for our current times. Please give a read to what he has written. Your day will be the better for it.

A Cultural Lesson Learned

It was the near perfect evening: With the sun setting, already the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the upper 60’s, as we began our stroll to Le Jardin, the old square of the colonial city San Miguel. If you haven’t lived in the mountains, it is difficult to understand that sunsets can take a very long time, as the timber of color changed from muted gold to deep umber. Arriving at the city center, we were greeted with life.

Families milled about, street vendors, mostly selling toys, sold their wares. Mariachis serenaded the customers on the restaurant patios. Lovers strolled, hand in hand, their eyes conveying a want that was clear, though public displays of affection were frowned upon. Well behaved dogs ran about, a gust of air lifting slightly a woman’s skirt, allowing one of the dogs to run under it, bringing a laugh to all who saw. The smell of roasting corn and sopes hung in the air, as did a hint of lime. It seemed a slow motion return to a simpler, better time…

And then the snapshot moment occurred. In literally the blink of an eye, I watched as a boy, maybe 4 years old, stumbled on the cobblestone street, fell, and began to cry. A man not related to him picked him up, wiped his tears, and set him on his way. In the same field of vision a young couple, hoping to be safely behind the trees, out of site, stole a kiss, and an elderly couple, watching the antics of a dog playing keep away with a toy intended for a child, laughed at the antics as the child chased it.

Each of these events powerful in their own right, rendered in simultaneity, inundated my emotions, reminding me of the commonality of the human condition. Here is my point: no matter what country we live in or what language we speak, none of us cries with an accent, bleeds with an accent, helps with an accent, kisses with an accent, laughs with an accent, or makes love with an accent. We are all humans. Our country of origin, original language, religion, none of those make any of us any better, or any worse, than anyone else. Oh, sure, our choices do, but not the issues of our origins.

I had almost forgotten this cultural lesson until yesterday, when I remembered that August 4th, 1944, was the day the Nazi’s found Anne Frank. Few people know this—it certainly isn’t taught in most high school history classes, that The Frank family applied for refugee status in the United States in 1941, only to be denied due to their religious background.

Some people never seem to learn the lesson that we are all humans, and should respect each other as such. To some people though, that lesson seems as natural as sunlight. Consider the words from the Bard himself, in The Merchant of Venice, as Shylock, a Jew, responds to his inquisitor, “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” In other words, he makes the point that Jew or Christian, each is still a human. We must remember that today, except replace the label “Jew” with “Syrian,” “Mexican,” “Somalian,” fill in the blank.

No, none of us cries, bleeds, helps, kisses, laughs or makes love with an accent. That is because in the core of what is important, we are all humans. So here is my challenge. Let’s not just strive to remember that today, let us strive to ACT on that today. Let us lovingly resist those who seek to build walls, and instead become a groundswell of individuals who work together to build bridges. No more Anne Franks should die. No more little Syrian boys should be found on beaches drowned, or traumatized sitting in the back of an ambulance. As an individual, YOU can make a difference. Together, we CAN initiate a groundswell that will change this world. Live Loved Give Love, Be the change this world needs.


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