Me. I am ridiculously pensive. One of my favourite activities is listening to new ideas. Just sitting there and listening, and thus beginning the long, slow process of digesting these new ideas, and possibly forming them into some kind of foundation for further new ideas as I move forward, and continue listening and learning.
It was my birthday recently. You know what I wanted to do?
Go to the Southeast Renewable Energy Show though. Why? Because people would be sharing new ideas. Interesting to me! Yes. I just wanted to sit in a chair and listen to people talk.
And yet when it’s my time to chime in at any of the lecture-y events I attend, I sit in stunned silence. I’m trying to get better at participating… that’s why I started this blog, so I can figure out what I have to say for myself. It’s not working out super-well, but it’s a step, I think.
You know what I find really difficult? Figuring out what to say about other cultures and places. Like, when there’s upheaval or a complicated painful history… I feel so ill-equipped to say anything at all about it. Who am I to try to explain what happened here or there and why… when I can’t even explain my own people, my own little part of the world?
That’s kind of the thing. I’ve started talking a bit about it before. I said that if I had a few beers that might loosen my tongue (or rather, the keyboard?).
So here’s the deal. I am a Mennonite. 100% born and bred. And yet I have never fit in, nor can I understand this place or these people (Steinbach / Mennonites). But there’s no way I’d ever deny that I’m one of them. Facts are facts. Furthermore, there are reportedly MANY others born here into this culture who haven’t fit in, and bailed. These are very cool, hip people. I am not one of these people, either. I just want to be clear. I don’t fit in, but I don’t necessarily reject it. I get confused by the definition of “Mennonite” and “Christian”, but I think I’m deciding to not reject these labels (this is a lifetime journey, I think).
And I can’t really figure out what I would tell someone about the ethos of this area. Those who were here for a blip and then moved away find it really easy to define from afar. But me? I’ve pretty much always been around. I’ve been a part of it… seen things up close… and it makes me feel even more confused.
I feel like it comes down to this: There are good people who are doing their best, and there are bad people who are pretending to be good people doing their best (makes it easier to manipulate people when you come at it from that angle, I’d imagine). And they’re all mixed up together. And the “good” people aren’t always good. And the “bad” people aren’t always bad. So this is really fucking vague. But I think that maybe you can sense my confusion — why I have such a difficult time trying to figure out my own culture and people group. It’s complicated, and every person you talk to will give you a different version of past events. I’m highly aware of this, being so totally from this place.
THIS is why I have absolutely no idea how to approach learning about situations from other people in other countries. Or even my own country. The learning and the listening will never end.
So, in my own stunned, confused, and pensive way… I’ll attempt to talk a bit about difficult realities in the near future.
And… this is my disclaimer.