Traveling, for me, brings innumerable opportunities to reflect on one’s own cultural assumptions and biases. An example:
Botox, Laguna Beach, breast implants, anorexia, neglected nursing homes, that orangy tanning-bed color and men too old to be sitting on that barstool. All bad things, right?
– but –
What do they have in common? Their common root: the American obsession with youth and appearing youthful.
You won’t really find any of those things here in Botswana, save the men that should be at home with their kids instead of on that barstool. Why not? Because in Botswana age, not youth, is the common value.
Hold on there a minute, though, before you start wishing that America could revert back to the days where we listened to our parents. As I see it, there may be a trade-off involved here. American college graduates, more than in any other country I know of, have little trouble finding jobs – and good ones. Fresh ideas, creativity ad innovation are all words with positive connotation and the currency of ladder-climbers. Questioning authority is a veritable American past-time, one that has ended wars and changed civil rights laws and liberated women. Could not all of these things, as much as the list above, be related to our obsession with youth?