Thursday, June 6, 2013

Trying to not take different cultural norms personally

I fancy myself an extremely tolerant person.  Although I've been told I don't always appear approachable, I think most people would say that once a conversation begins, I welcome most any opinion on any topic.  With a few notable exceptions, I'll even let you get out your whole thought before I interrupt with a counter point.  All of this falls apart when I am talking to my husband but that's beside the point. 

In some cases though, I'm never given the opportunity to understand.  I am instantly judged or deemed part of a certain set of people simply because of the way I dress or my blonde hair or the fact that I have a dog -- whatever it is, I can feel it when it's happening.  Perhaps it's the Texan in me that tends to wander around with a goofy smile on my face.  Maybe I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.  Then again, I feel like I balance that openness with a measured amount of skepticism and wariness simply because I'm female and well, not a complete horseface.  You only have to get in trouble being "too nice" once before you realize that there are people out there who will take advantage of a cute girl with a charming disposition.  So, dang...what is my point??  I think I've had too much coffee already this morning. 

Maybe I'm killing all this time talking about myself because part of me knows what I'm about to comment on may not be the most P.C. thing on the planet so I'll try to get right to the point.

I know there is a code of ethics that certain religions must follow when it comes to conversing with the opposite sex, especially if said person of the opposite sex appears to be under 80 years old.  The thing is, I think there has to be a way to not engage in conversation yet still remain polite.  Maybe I'm painting with a broad brush here but it sure seems like the vast majority of uber religious Muslim men in this hotel would rather have their fingernails ripped out than hold the door as I'm running in behind them or say "hello" or "good morning". 

Without getting too terribly mired in religious discussions here, it seems to me like laying down such strict rules about socializing is akin to living in a small town and being raised by strict parents.  What has happened to almost every sheltered teenager who is raised in this fashion??  They do EXACTLY the opposite of what they're told and they do it on a scale and level that ends up being far more shocking than the original rules would have implied. 

I suppose I should just feel blessed to have been raised in a country and by parents who allowed me to learn in my own way -- who established some boundaries but trusted that I would learn from my mistakes.  I won't stop saying good morning or smiling at strangers, no matter how many don't smile back.  I won't feel ashamed to walk my dog when I know some people find them filthy and their disgust with my sweet little Cassie is transferred to the person walking the dog.  I also will try my damnedest not to be so hurt or irritated when a grown ass man lets a door shut in my face while my hands are full and I can't reach the door.  Nope - I will take the higher ground.  'Cept I might just shout "Thank you and Good morning!" as he's walking away....that I might do. 

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