Life Tip #111

Get out and experience how the other halves live.

Most of us grew up—or currently live—in a community where everybody not only looks pretty much the same, but also falls into the same economic and cultural categories. This is the natural way that neighborhoods and communities are built up, like it or not. I would only add that while it may be the natural order of things, it is nonetheless unfortunate.

It is especially unfortunate for those who never get out of their community to experience people unlike themselves. And the greater misfortune is for the children of those adults. Even today, these kids could pass all the way through high school and never get outside the mindset of their home community. No wonder our country is still having problems with racial, class, and cultural biases.

Get out there and experience how all the other halves live, the races not like your own, cultures unlike your own, classes above and below your own. And when you do, take your kids with you as often as possible.

You will gain valuable insight, knowledge, and wisdom about other people that will expand your worldview. You will place yourself at a great advantage in this world by exposing yourself to other communities, and the races and cultures found there.

I still remember being playfully referred to as a Juero (whitey) by my Hispanic sixth-grade students near the Mexican border in El Paso. That was one of the first times—inside the United States—that I found myself in the distinct minority. El Paso was at that time 75 percent Hispanic. And you know what? I loved it.

Later, I would find myself living and working in other cities where I was clearly the minority, including Miami, Memphis, Jacksonville, and Chicago. It certainly is eye-opening once you learn that much of this country is not like where you grew up, or where you currently live.

I haven’t even mentioned being an extreme minority as an American when I traveled around Europe and South America. The disadvantages I had there were obvious: I was coming from a different race, culture, and language. Try being the only person in your town, literally, who can barely speak the language. Brutal.

So get out there, some way, somehow, to experience life outside your home community. And the longer and more embedded you can become in another community, the better it will be for your growth and perspective.

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