Because of the wide variety of cultures, values and lifestyles in America, I think we’ve come to assume that if something can happen, it will happen. This makes the apparent lack of regulation here very scary to Americans. My host father read my Lonely Planet guide to Ethiopia today and said that it makes Ethiopia seem much scarier than it is. And it is true. Since being here I’ve learned that the lack of safety restrictions from the top is made up for by the restrictions the culture places on itself. For example, when I first arrived I would hold my breath and look down every time I passed someone holding a gun. Someone would walk by carrying a scythe (big curved knife for agriculture) and I would feel a sharp pain of anticipation in my neck. Eventually I got used to the idea that people have the ability to hurt me all the time, but they don’t. This idea takes getting used to because it demands great trust in people—a trust we don’t have in America. I think it is because in America we don’t know each other the way they do here. Even if you’ve never met someone here, you share cultural values that unite you. Now when I pass someone on the street with a scythe I greet them and trust that I will pass in peace.
Alex on trust Mike on the servant
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