I picked up a brilliant piece of literature today that had the amazing effect of revealing my US ethnocentrism within 5 seconds. I’m sure it’s on the New York Times Bestseller list.
You may have heard of it? It’s called 1001 Cool Freaky Facts with Glen Singleton (Highly recommended and left on the breakfast table for my review, by my 8 year old!)
Here are some that caught my eye:
- The first daily television broadcast began in 1936 on the BBC.
- The story of Cinderella originated in China.
- The first living creature to orbit the Earth was a dog sent into space by the Russians.
- The oldest existing governing body, the Althing, operates in Iceland. It was established in AD 930.
And here were my immediate, unconscious, telling reactions:
- Television broadcasts originated in the US. We control everything TV related.
- Knew about the Chinese Cinderella, but assumed the Chinese copied the US originated tale.
- For the Russians and the dog, that first foray into space is vaguely familiar in the context of fuel for the Cold War in the 1950’s. (And reminds me of a recurring conversation with my Brazilian husband, who assures me Alberto Santos-Dumont, not the Wright Brothers, invented the airplane.)
- Who knew Iceland even had people that long, let alone organized government (plus it’s a Parliament–wasn’t that invented in England?)
I’m sure if I asked my little sister right now if it was “just me” who (despite conscious and constant energy focused to the contrary) had such blatant, US-centric assumptions that helped to filter and organize my view of the world, she would say “it’s just you. You’re such a X$@#$%%.”
But, tell the truth, if you are born and raised in the US, do you have any unspoken, possibly unrealized assumptions about US cultural superiority? How will acknowelging them open you to new learning and ways of looking at the world?