A classic case of blind patriotism. We love our country in Scotland. Like, really love it. Even if you don’t like haggis, you’ll probably defend it to the hilt and vaguely misquote something about the “haggis-fed” and “chieftains o’ the puddin’ race”. I bet some of you don’t even like Irn Bru. But it’s still the orange nectar of our dear green place.
Even in the UK in general – we’ve got that whole British thing. you know, that je-ne-sais-quoi that our pals across the pond find so endearing. That innate social compass that led me to politely accept a hot cup of tea (?!?) on our first day in Mandritsara (it was 40 degrees centigrade. Stupid tea-politeness).
We are, as a result, often inclined to think that we’re a bit different to the rest of the world. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily intentional arrogance – but it’s not like we really live cross-culturally day to day. I have found, with an enormous mental and social bump, that I had some ingrained ideas of “what Africa’s like” before coming here.
The bottom line is this: we are so unbelieveably similar that this human similarity far outweighs any cultural difference. We want the same things – safety. Food. Our kids, or our neighbours’/relatives’ kids, to get a good education and be healthy. We all have a sense of humour. We all need friendship, fellowship and kindness.
“A missionary friend of mine once said, ‘things were simple before I went to Africa. I knew what the African’s problem was, and I knew the answer. When I got there and began to know him as a person, things were no longer simple'”
It is very easy in the west to sit and make sweeping judgements based on our couch-formed concept of poverty, wealth, corruption, greed, and generosity. I urge you to take a trip to Africa, just the once. I promise it’ll change you.