Monday, January 14, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture

Four times in the last 48 hours has the following statement been said to me, "You are such an American!"

It was actually not my American-accented and yet high level of Hebrew that tipped them off, but rather the multiple opportunities I have had to take initiative where an instant and efficient solution was demanded, and my subsequent action in which I made the lives of strangers a little easier.

OK, so the bossy taking-initiative behaviour could be that of a New Yorker or an Israeli; and helping out a stranger in need?  That strikes me as being humanitarian at the very least, plus the Jewish tradition spends a lot of time preaching about taking care of the stranger and showing kindness to others.

Over the years, I have witnessed remarkable kindness performed by Israelis, with no ulterior motives.

I am at a loss to understand how my approach to other human beings qualifies me distinctly as an American.  Who can say how much of my choices come from my upbringing within my own family and my personal life experiences, rather than geography and the place I was born and lived until my mid 20's.

Furthermore, I can only hope to pass on positive and absolutely basic human values to Raphaela, that every person deserves to feel good about themselves and to receive the benefit of the doubt.

I am inclined to think that the statement was meant for the most part as a complement, because the cashier at the supermarket - an Ethiopian woman who has known me for many years - told the woman I was assisting at the time, "Let her help you, she is one of the good ones."

1 comment:

Amy Charles said...

Yes, the terrible tendency of the American to fail to see imaginary obstacles and fix things. :) I wouldn't worry.