I’m again struck today by how different this culture is from the culture that I’m familiar with in the U.S. and yet how similar people are. Human nature is the same no matter how or where it’s packaged.
From a health care perspective, both cultures have those courageous when faced with painful circumstances or illnesses. They each also have plenty of whiners and complainers over any little thing that interferes with a happy, painless existence (which, of course, doesn’t exist). In both cultures I’ve seen people “tough as nails” who unwisely ignore their symptoms too long. As well, there are plenty of people in both Brazil and the States who run to professional help for the most obviously irrelevant symptoms, especially when there is no cost. Many people that I’ve seen in both cultures humbly receive instructions from a physician and, knowing that they themselves know no better, are compliant with his/her instructions. There are also plenty of those that, although they initiate a visit to the doctor for counsel and treatment, find fault with the physician’s manner, his approach, his treatment, or his counsel, and are noncompliant with any follow-up. The errant sense that medicine is a cookbook profession, where a+b=c, is sadly alive and well world-wide. The most common statement I hear in medical interviews in both cultures is, “I went to so-and-so and they obviously didn’t know what they were doing, because I’m no better.”
I’ve met physicians in both cultures who care for people and pursue excellence in their care and counsel. There are also plenty of doctors world-wide who work for a paycheck as their primary motivation, and it shows.
Both cultures have people who expect everyone to serve them and who don’t understand the value of gratitude and the satisfaction of hard work. There are also those, of course, who humbly respect any effort and cost paid on their behalf, and are grateful for it.
Human nature is fascinating to behold over a lifetime of observation and interaction cross-culturally. Cultures are fascinatingly different but human nature is incredibly the same. As I read books written centuries ago (including the Bible), it should not surprise me (though it still does) that, although we have modified the "package" with technology and modern industry, human nature is exactly the same as it was in the time of the Egyptian dynasty. It also should not surprise me (though it does) that, although modern culture and prosperity can change the package, human nature is the same in the Amazon Rainforest as it is in the mountains of Tibet, as it is on the streets of Calcutta, as it is on Wall Street.
Still beyond my ability to understand is that the God who made all of this, and who gave every person the capacity to choose freely, loves and cherishes each flawed individual. This is difficult for me because there certainly are people in both cultures (some types mentioned above) that are simply beyond my ability to cherish and to love. This brings to mind one of the most amazing statements in all of human history: Jesus’ statement of forgiveness while hanging from nails, suffocating, and being mocked and laughed at. When He came back to life a couple days later, He demonstrated that His attitude was God’s attitude. Yes, God can and does love the difficult ones, even those who spit in his face and pound nails into his feet, which means He can love me… and He can love you, no matter where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
It is more clear to me today that each person manifests, within and about them, both the beauty of being created in the image of a wonderfully beautiful Creator, as well as the wounds and scars acquired from walking independently of this same loving Creator.
O Father, how I need your help to love them, as you so graciously continue to love this ungrateful, selfish, preoccupied me.