How Living Abroad Has Restored My Faith in Humanity
Updated: Sep 2, 2018
Sometimes we don’t realize just how different things are from what we’re used to until we leave that environment and place ourselves into another one. Having the opportunity to look from the outside in and experience a different way of living certainly brings out the good and the bad in our current lives. It also helps us to realize the things that we are missing, and the things that we could stand to learn from.
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a post from someone who mentioned that they were "that annoying person" who speaks to everyone that she passes while out for a walk or run. As I chuckled at the fact that she considered basic human decency to be “annoying,” I immediately thought back to a conversation that I’d had just that morning in a nearby cafe here in Mexico: We discussed how if you don’t speak when passing by or approaching someone, that it was frowned upon and people may even go so far to think that something is wrong with you.
Later that evening, I came across another Facebook post where someone asked whether people believed families with children in restaurants should be seated in different sections from other patrons. I was shocked at the number of people who agreed that children should be completely separated so as not to “ruin” the meals of adults. Some even went so far as to say that more restaurants need to be completely kid-free.
Meanwhile, my son and I had just finished up dinner in a nice restaurant that included a fully supervised Kid’s Club. He had a blast enjoying his meal and playing with other kids when he wasn’t eating, and me and the other mom I was with had a blast enjoying our meal and catching up over a glass of wine while our children were in the Kid's Club. You see, here in Mexico, just about every restaurant from fast food to the fancy-schmancy all come equipped with large indoor/outdoor playgrounds and/or Kid’s Clubs to keep children entertained and active while adults continue to dine and socialize at the tables. Everyone co-exists, and everyone is happy being who they are.
Both situations led me to reflect on the differences in thought processes and human interaction that I’ve both witnessed and experienced since we have moved to Mexico:
Here, manners still exist. Everyone speaks to each other, whether best friends or complete strangers. It’s customary to say “Buenos dias” in the morning, “Buenas tardes” in the afternoon, or “Buenas noches” in the evening. “Por favor” and “Gracias” are used every single time someone asks for or accepts something.
Complete strangers walking by will say “Provecho”, wishing a good meal to someone who has just begun to eat, or is currently enjoying their meal.
Children are embraced as they are, and are encouraged to play and interact with one another wherever they are.
Men don’t think twice about allowing a lady to pass first. They don’t think twice about opening a door for her, and they certainly never let her pay for a meal if they are together. The elderly are always respected, assisted, and offered a seat.
People are willing to help when they see that help is needed. They don’t care if someone has skin darker than theirs, that they speak a different language, or that they immigrated from a different country.
Experiencing these things daily has brought out the fact that my former reality consists of a place where people are so disconnected and so out of touch with one another that it is now considered “annoying” to simply speak to someone.
...where people think that children need to be hidden away or forced to be quiet just so adults can avoid interacting with them.
...where people believe that they are too good to help someone who is having a hard time simply because they don’t look like them, or come from the same place, or speak a different language as them.
...where people are so stuck in those negative ways that it is now considered a surprise for someone to show an act of kindness or respect!
Well, if there is one thing that doesn't come as a surprise, it's that it is so easy for one to completely lose their faith in humanity.
However, living abroad and even traveling abroad in general has opened my eyes up to so much and has taught me that regardless of how much times have changed where I am from, there are still places were people respect and appreciate everyone that they come in contact with, and the value the lives of children. There are still places where chivalry and love still exist and differences are welcomed. There are still places where people are genuinely interested in helping or getting to know complete strangers.
Being abroad in this environment has taught me that decent humans still exist, and more importantly, has taught me to be a better person because of it.