Previously published on September 11, 2014
The first time I left Jamaica, in fact the first time I boarded an aircraft, was at the age of 18 on my way to the former Soviet Union.
Nothing could have ready me for the next seven years. I knew that at the end of my time in one of the coldest parts of the world, I would be the holder of a Master’s degree in International Relations but what about all the other things? A husband, a child, fluency in the Russian language, travels and holidays across Europe to name a few.
The greatest learning, however, was the history and cultures of people from around the world.
Where and how else would an 18-year-old interface, commune, eat, relate, entertain, study and befriend a Congolese, a Scandinavian, a Latin American and a British citizen in an hour? The student village where we lived was a virtual United Nations gathering.
On Becoming A World Citizen
I learned to cover my head, take off my shoes, eat a full meal with my fingers and squat to use a public latrine within weeks of our arrival.
My most valuable and lifelong lesson was how to respect diversity in culture, religion, lifestyle and beliefs.
Did I agree with all that I saw, the different ways of being? No and there were times when my culture clashed with that of others. For example, my first potential boyfriend was from Congo, French-speaking and he was so madly in love with me. His ways of showing affection were passionate and possessive and that had me running like a bat out of hell.
When my seven years came to an end, I did not want to leave, so enamored with the experience of living internationally locally in Kiev, Ukraine. Jamaica was my home but the world became my domain. I could no longer imagine a life confined to the 10,991 kilometres that Jamaica encompasses.
I became a citizen of the world.
Quest For Truth – Love Is My Religion
As the years passed, my quest for Truth deepened. My political views expanded until it exploded – into oblivion. Later, with my exposure to the different religions and spiritual paths, first through my association and membership with The Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living in Jamaica and then my training in pastoral education, combined with my chaplaincy/spiritual counselling service in hospital and penal institutions in Canada, Love became my religion.
As many remember the pain and yes, tragedy of 9/11, my choice is to look to the beauty in the present. Life is truly a gift, and as the saying goes “that is why it is called the present.” I choose to focus on the unfolding, make room in my heart for the creation of a world much like the one in which I lived in Kiev.
This was a place where fellowship resided; we had peace midst differences. We coexisted.
It’s the failure to see this planet as a single entity that causes so much pain so many times. You cannot attack one part of the world without it affecting the whole earth, the whole body. Attacking other cultures, other nations, is a self-destructive act. It always comes back on you in some way. Gorillaz, Gorillaz: Rise of the Ogre
Is that possible for the rest of the world today? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below and do, subscribe and receive updates of our posts.
Please enjoy the rest of your Sunday – in peace and love.