Before I jump into this South Africa trip, I feel I need to lay foundation on my mind-set and where it began.
I took a Global Seminar to Mexico last year, same time and everything (shout out to Mark Bellcourt). The focus was on how tourism is effecting the environment. As my environmental justice side was sharpened, my social justice side was waking up. I was introduced to small villages surrounded by garbage, self-made homes with limited resources, extreme poverty, but across the street are these resorts and mansions resting on the beach front. These conditions parallel to those here in South Africa, but I must state they are more extreme here. So coming into South Africa with that experience has made me more accepting to the conditions and enabling me to see behind it all.
The state of mind I began to have when I came back to the home from Mexico is one that lives and breathes in the communities we have visited here in South Africa. It so seems that most cultures, other than ours in America, have a foundation around community; caring for one another just because that is our human nature. Before coming to South Africa, I was challenged by the in-humane nature of our American culture and got angry when a person did not say excuse me, disregarding my very existence. What could seem like tiny situations transcend into the condition of an entire society. How we interact with one another sets up what type of community we live in. So I was questioning my very purpose and what I am trying to accomplish in life. I almost felt that if I had to continue living in America, I had to conform to this capitalistic mind-set at which was being challenged by my mind-set once I came back from Mexico! So I was in all sorts of uncertainty and discontent with my surroundings. But I managed and felt this trip would bring my mind to where it needed to be, which it has so far. I can continue my mind-set with reinforcement from the ideas, practices, and history I've learned here.
First-off, I want speak on the South African proverb "ubuntu", and how it ties in so well with me. This concept is the root of the culture here; "I am who I am because of you", "I am a person through other persons", or "I am because we are" are all phrases that capture its meaning. Coming back to how it fits me, is the idea that the type of friends you carry reflect yourself. I believe this with my heart to the extreme. My best friends Myles, Andra, and Greg reflect exactly who I am and I love it. On another spectrum of how it fits in with me is how I treat others. Whether it is someone familiar to me or just a stranger, I have respect and acknowledge them as another human-being. It is funny how what I just said seems like "duh Ant", but that is what challenges our American society. Americans in general live with this "mind your own business" attitude, and so we negate our natural human instincts to interact with one another. Seems crazy, but that's how it is. So I have been ecstatic upon learning "ubuntu". Another cool fact is that it ties in with my tattoo I got in Mexico. The brown band on my arm symbolizes the reciprocal relationships we must have between human-nature and human-human. This is a common theme in how the Maya civilization lived and now how ancient tribes in South Africa lived. I will continue to practice this way of living because it brings ultimate happiness.
This is a long blog. This is what happens when I don't reflect in a timely manner. I'll be back.
This is my shadow on the path to the southern most point of Africa, Cape of Good Hope