As Others See Us

Jack hits the ground running – – –

I’ve often pondered on what we mean by ‘normal’ – normal behavior, normal lifestyle, normal ideas.


When Wendy was teaching Cultural Geography in a classroom instead of on-line she would occasionally have me in to guest lecture on Scottish culture. I would always read the textbook beforehand and was struck by something. The book was always written from a Western point of view and I got to wondering how a textbook written from an African or Oriental angle would compare.

My view of the world comes from a European perspective, whereas Wendy’s is American and although we obviously share a similar worldview, we’ve both had to make adjustments over the years.

A friend recently posted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on Facebook and it reminded me of something I read by C S Lewis – maybe in Mere Christianity. He said, and I defer to his scholarship, that everyone in the world, regardless of religion, had the same sense of right and wrong, good and bad.

If we think of something like Maslow’s pyramid with the shared sense of good and bad at the base and a completely formed worldview at the top, then somewhere between the two is where the difference sets in.

Perhaps the answer to this conundrum is to start lower down the pyramid where the shared perspectives are more evident. That way maybe an African student can avoid seeing a European country as an ex-colonizer and a US student can question whether their form of freedom and democracy is the only kind.

There’s a very rich and varied mélange of ‘normals’ out there and I’ve been very lucky in my life to sample many more than the average person. My message? Read widely, travel widely and reach out.

The map at the top is of the British Isles viewed from the North instead of from the South – a good exercise in seeing your world from a different angle!

Interestingly – there are two countries, a Principality and a Province making up the United Kingdom – how many do you see shown?


In and Out – and Again – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post – –

I’ve been pondering about the ways we are being affected by the lock-down.

With time on my hands I’ve been posting more on Facebook and noticed that, even with non-political posts, it’s very easy to get sucked into being far too sensitive. For instance I’ve been taking part in the ten favorite albums challenge and got involved in a small dispute about the provenance of one. There was a bit of to and fro but it was all sorted by everyone putting smiley emogees beside their posts. I was impressed by how everyone drew back and sorted it out.

Just before I started to write this I saw a post from a friend that simply gave some information about the plan in place here in Virginia to confront the virus. The first response was from someone who was obviously a friend of hers describing Governor Northam as “Hitler”. I was very impressed when she completely ignored the comment but instead reached out with an offer to connect him with a photo competition. So another way to avoid easy confrontation (that one would have been very hard for me!).

Wendy is in a different situation though. She is emailing and phoning all over the place and sitting in the middle of a web of suppliers and recipients of hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and all manner of PPE. These folk and she are all under tremendous pressure and that, of course, is when misunderstandings arise and patience can be tested. But again, sitting back and breathing slowly has proven effective for everyone involved.

So, if there’s a message from these observations, it’s probably that counting to ten, and not going with your first instinct is probably your best response!

I hope that will continue to be the case when this eventually passes – – –