"" Writer's Wanderings: World Rumors

Thursday, August 20, 2009

World Rumors

Two of the countries we have visited in the last several years that are most fascinating to me are China and Russia. I'm sure it is because of the mystery surrounding their Communist history. China was a closed country for so long as was Russia while we were involved in the Cold War--a part of history that I grew up with.

As part of our preparation for our visit to China in 2007, I read The Wild Swans, by Jung Chang. It is the story of three generations of Chinese women beginning with Chang's grandmother who was a concubine for a general, continuing through her mother's generation with the take over by the Communist regime, and ending with her own story of growing up in China. It was an excellent portrayal of the struggles in China especially during the war.

One thing that stood out from the book was a comment she made that she was told, "Eat all of your dinner. The children in America are starving." Now this was exactly what I was told growing up--only it was the children in China who were starving.

On our recent visit to Russia, one of our fellow sojourners asked our guide what her perception of Americans had been growing up. She was a little younger than the rest of us so I was surprised with her reply. While in school, their day would be interrupted with air raid drills so that they would learn what to do should America drop the bomb.

It was no different when I grew up in school--only we were concerned with Russia dropping the bomb on us. Fear was taught on both sides of the Atlantic.

I wonder today what misconceptions are being taught here in America as well as in other countries about each other? Fear is taught. Hate is learned. And when power is desired. . .well, we've all seen the result.

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