Yesterday, I tried to describe Argentine culture to one of the LST members here. I was struck with the problems and the joys of the people. That is the trick of culture... It just is.
Anthropologists argue that culture is inherently neutral. I doubt that is the case. There is beauty in every culture. In Argentina, we find a number of things beautiful.
1. The greetings people give to one another. Everyone greets everyone else. To not do so is considered an insult, unless it is physically impossible to get around to everyone in the room.
2. The hospitality that friends show. You are truly invited into the lives for life. We are blessed with some truly amazing friendships.
3. The passion that people feel for things they truly believe in. Sometimes this manifests itself in being an hincha of a particular football club (¡VAMOS, RIVER!) Other times, it manifests itself politically, socially, through service, through opinions, through relationships, through beliefs... Yet people are passionate.
4. People keep their friends for life. While it can be hard to build friendships, they are truly loyal to their friends. (Also, see #2.) People here are friends with many of the same people that they went to elementary school with. I would be hard-pressed to name five people I went to elementary school with, yet these are friends that they take on vacation!
5. Some people are earnestly seeking God, which is a blessing.
Are there problems? Of course! We can easily list some. But we won't! (At least, not online! And probably not in conversation either...) We don't wear celeste colored glasses when it comes to Argentina, but we have grown to love the people and enjoy the place. (Celeste is the national color of Argentina, by the way.) We are blessed.
Culture is NOT inherently neutral. Some things are GREAT. Some things are TERRIBLE. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. (Or is an anthropologist.)
What do you love about the culture where you are? What do you dislike? How is God working through the culture? Or in spite of the culture? Or around the culture?
We all have a culture. Parts are inherently beautiful; others are difficult or different, terrible or tricky. But we all have it.
One of the challenges that we face is realizing that we are not longer part of our American culture; at least, not entirely. More on this in the next few days.
God bless you, and may you all see your culture through God's eyes.