Wednesday, October 31, 2007

City vs Village; Stuff vs Relationships


Being a city boy all my life, I developed certain snobbishness towards small town brethren. Now I find myself in a rural village of the third world country; I am not quite as snobbish, and in some ways resentful of my own pomposity. I see in Samoa people faced with the lure of the city or a foreign land without fully comprehending what is to be gained and what is to be lost.

There is no question the city is an economic engine. The city’s purpose for being is commerce. Its riches overflow into educational, ideological, technological innovations. The city produces stuff and status is measured by how much stuff you have. A premium is placed on change. What is lost is a sense of self identity with those around you. The bonds between people weaken in the process. The mystic of life and the forces which surround us seem to be lost in the struggle for stuff.

Village life is no idyllic panacea either. There are physical hardships and a certain static nature of thought. It is life at the subsistence level where relationships between people dominate in importance. These relationships are as necessary to life in the village as a salaried job is to a city dweller. Each day new levels of relationships subtly reveal themselves to me. Most interactions are unspoken. If you don’t look carefully, you could miss them.

I marvel at this country of Samoa which chose to maintain its independent place in the world and its least favored nation status over being a protectorate and opening its borders to foreign capitol. I see its people struggle between the world of stuff and that of relationships. I hope stuff doesn’t swallow them.


Teri said...
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Teri said...

Hi Dad,
This post has inspired discussion among more people than you might realize. Can't tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. For me, it not only provides unique insight into an unfamiliar people & culture, but also offers much food for thought about how deeply our values and life perspectives affect how we see the world.