As a photographer, I have spent the past 12 years traveling the globe with the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA shooting archaeological sites. Some are located in large well-known cities, and some are in tiny villages that have never seen pavement, let alone electricity or even an American tourist. When visiting these places, it has always been important to me to meet people wherever I am. (Clearly, I didn’t listen when Mom told me not to talk to strangers!) I have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of tea and conversation with a Bolivian llama herder, an Egyptian tribal leader, an Easter Island shop owner, a French chef, a Muslim Imam (Priest), a Patagonian penguin farmer, a Chinese fruit carver, a Croatian sea captain, a Mayan witch doctor/medicine man, an Armenian farm-wife, a Russian pizza maker, and oh so many more wonderful people too numerous to mention. This kind of world travel can give one an entirely new perspective of their own back yard. It has for me.
While visiting with these folks, my curiosity leads me to ask them many questions about how they live, what they eat, what is a typical day like for them, etc. The most interesting thing are the answers that I received when I asked the simplest question: “What is your greatest wish in life?” or “What would you like to see from life?” or “What are your personal goals?” These are simply different forms of the same question. But the responses surprised the heck out of me because the 3 most common answers were so similar no matter WHERE I was or WHO I was speaking with! And they are:
- To have good work to feel productive (jobless issues and personal satisfaction)
- To have food on the table every day (hunger issues)
- For our children to play safely in the streets (security issues)
Lesson learned: No matter what we are told ad nauseum by our media, by our governments and by those who have never traveled to experience the world first-hand, people are the same EVERYWHERE! No matter what their politics or their religion, they have shown themselves to be practical, concerned, ambitious, family-loving people who’s daily lives – like ours – revolve around their own backyards and neighborhoods instead of larger, more political issues. Sure, we all like to banter the politics about the table and at the local watering hole but we still must all focus on our homes and our families.
So many questions