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Monday, May 23, 2011

Leave Blossoms Wherever You Go

One of the critiques of Global Citizens is that we are shallow-rooted residents of many places.  Since we have an "out" people fear that we pass through places like ghosts in a limousine, gliding along until the next adventure and the next Third Place.

Perhaps there are people like that out there.  I personally don't know any.  On the contrary my experience has been that once you have lived in a country and made connections,  you care deeply about  that place even if you are called to leave it.  A perfect example was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which had me frantically emailing friends to find out if all was o.k.

My corollary to the "Bloom Where You're Planted" is "Leave Blossoms Wherever You Go."  However long you stay in a place, leave it a little bit better for your having been there.  Do something useful and constructive for the benefit of the people around you.  Volunteer. Be the best possible ambassador for your country by learning about the place you find yourself, by making a difference however small, and by sharing with people how much you love where you are from.

When we came back to France from Japan we found a lovely apartment here in Versailles.  The apartment was grand, the garden was a mess.  A lot of moss, a few dahlias, a couple of struggling roses, no worms, no birds, no life.  It was a veritable desert.

Three years (and a lot of compost, love and sweat) later this little piece of earth has been transformed.  This year, for the very first time, the roses bloomed.  Here they are in all their splendor:

No immigrants, these roses were here when we arrived.  They just needed a little pruning and some fertilizer to shine.  As for the rest of the garden, my neighbors have deemed it "magnifique."

If we do it right, we Global Citizens can be a force for good in the world by treating every place we find ourselves as a garden that we can transform and leave richer and more fertile than we arrived.  For our own benefit surely but also for our neighbors and friends so that even if we leave for distant shores we will be remembered not only for what we are but for the good things we left behind.


CarnetsdeSeattle said...

As always, what can I say, except "Agreed". It's hard sometimes though. Sometimes you wish to educate people around you and that can go a little wrong. You have to be very careful.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Yes, it can be very frustrating especially when emotions are running high. Sometimes all you can do is empathize even when you feel like the people around you are deliberately refusing to look at things differently or they are distorting facts. That alone I find absolutely infuriating. When that happens, I try (don't always succeed) to stop talking and start listening. Then the phrase, "I think I can understand why you might think this way" sometimes helps to get the person in front of me in a frame of mind to start listening to my point of view. Doesn't always work.

Crossing cultures is a crash course in diplomacy.