Cosmic Samba: Styles of Life Unified by M. Pitter

The people of this world– living in different societies abroad, societies built on continents each continent shaped its own way, near seas and containing rivers filled with trees and bush indigenous only to that very place — seem foreign to each other.

credit: M.Pitter/In Parentheses
credit: M.Pitter/In Parentheses

Coming into contact with foreign peoples could be an experience that renders any links between you and those foreign peoples nonexistent. Sitting invisible out in some tree-blotted cafe sunlight or in the thick air of some tea house listening to expressions of life in completely different languages and different intonations that come with certain body movements may lend to you the notion that there is a significant disconnect between yourself and those foreign humans who seem to share nothing with your life.

A potentially limited sample of physical and metaphysical aspects that seem to divide people consists of

1. Language —> The methods by which people’s tongues grow accustomed to communicating and conveying meaning. Aspects of an environment yield the specific mechanical phonetic abilities of tongue movement that develops out from within that certain environment.

2. History——> The period of time within which the style of interpersonal-interaction develops and evolves as domestic and international social events shape and mold directions of collective human life laying the groundwork for what ultimately becomes the overlying ethos of the people of a place.

credit: M.Pitter/In Parentheses
credit: M.Pitter/In Parentheses

Language and history may be the only entities differentiating a teenager born and living in Chicago from a teenager born and living in Hanoi, Malmø, São Paulo or Cape Town. Other than language and history, these 5 people are just people, the same as any other person on the planet whose mannerisms shall fall within the great range of human personalities. Language is an obvious division. It is physical in that we can hear it and oftentimes see it in writing. History is another division, one that is not as obvious, but profound indeed. Quantitatively, history is a profound division because it births further physical and metaphysical divisions. Qualitatively speaking, the metaphysical divisions range from culture, to lore, to politics, to spirituality. The physical divisions range from food, to currency, to facial features and, of course, to language. History brought people from the Pleistocene to today. Every single region, country, province, neighborhood has its own unique history (its own course of events from the Pleistocene to today) which heavily contributes to the distinguishing features of the world’s people.

The styles of living and survival among the world’s people find union in the trend that we all, as human beings, recognize what our surroundings demand of us. We respond whether or not our responses are considered positive or negative by our given society. Responses include the education of ourselves, the involvement of criminal activity, the pursuit of an honored position, sociopathy, the contributions to science and technology, the creation of art, suicide. Certain patterns repeat themselves from place to place, from continent to continent whether the people speak Farsi, Igbo, Thai, English, Portuguese or Tongan, Japanese or Amharic. We can say, perhaps, that everyone, essentially, wants to live up to what they have learned to value and what they have absorbed as necessary throughout their lives.

[For example, there is no difference between going to a social club in Istanbul to drink tea or coffee, smoke nargila and play backgammon and going to a sports bar on Monday nights in Orlando. Both situations involve a brief release from the immediate concerns of life for the indulgence in stimulants, conversation and other amusements (American football on television and Backgammon). The reasons why they appear different come from the specific series of historical events within those specific societies.]

This apparent unity makes a mockery of the political maps with bold lines between color-coded countries.

Yes: people are different. Again, among various aspects, they speak completely different languages. But languages (like skin color {and facial features in general}) differentiate along a steady gradient. Walk — from the western tip of the Iberian peninsula and zig-zag north to København and then south to Türkiye and through to Iraq, a quick jolt up to the Caucasus, through what is considered today to be Azerbaijan, then across the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan bound, and then on to the east until you reach Shanghai — and then you’ll witness how one language oozes and melts into the next and then the next. Spanish slowly becomes French after various in-between phenomena of language mixing with Spanish and French. The same gradient-like changes in languages and physical characteristics most likely apply to the Native American communities from what is today considered the Yukon to what is today considered Tierra del Fiego. If you walk from Morocco to Swaziland, languages and features merge into the next in similar fashions. In this sense, we are all linked: a globally strewn arrangement of cultural Venn-diagrams who are only superficially different from the other ‘links’ surrounding us forming the human genome. The differences between people — between locals and foreigners, foreigners and locals that appear so obvious, defined and far too profound to not estrange a human of one society from a human of another society — seem apparent and overruling because of our vantage point too close to the relatively large picture that is the planetary human condition. “Backing up” in our outlook and cognition may reveal to us a more complete image of clear and resolute connection between everyone everywhere.

Author: Michael

is a recent graduate of Boston University, where he received the Gregory Hudson Award for Writing Excellence in the Humanities. He studied English Literature, History and Philosophy. To Michael, In Parentheses functions as an established, intellectual environment where art and current events share equal relevance.

3 thoughts

  1. I wonder what you think comes out of this “unity”. I assure you it’s not paradise, I have intel from a certain cloud in the sky so you’ll have to take my word for it. I strongly doubt that if we were to become a unified planet that wars/poverty/class systems would end. They would just look different. In fact, a unified planet would be much more broken up into littler pieces then it is now, because how else would you govern such a thing. For the most part I’m against this idea of “unity” because it implies a great deal of blood and loss, the loss of singular/insular cultures that have been around for millenia. It also reminds me a lot of white-washing and Nazism. Of course I don’t think that such a thing can happen again, at least not an outright extermination on a continental scale, but there are some similarities: both have an ideology based on one-ness, granted the Nazi ideology was more purified one-ness (but the idea of one-ness is a purification in itself, because in order to come to one you need to come from many, and in order to become one you need to acknowledge that the many is not correct/right/moral/fill-in-the-blank); both are on the world scale and both imply some type of paradisaical end. This is the philosophy/hope of the catholic church. For the recoming of the saviour to bring about the time of paradise. And it’s interesting to note that with paradise comes the apocalypse.

  2. Hmmm, I got a little off the rails there…but on the whole I do agree with you. Languages and Histories (=Culture) are the same no matter where you are because all humans share a similar psychology. Just look at comparative mythology. It’s incredible to see how many tropes and archetypes are in similar between all world mythologies, especially since there was no interaction between the civilizations.

  3. Garth,

    I apologize for the delayed response. To briefly address a concern in your first comment: Writing Cosmic Samba was not an effort for the world to unite as a people. Not in the least bit. I was merely pointing out the central features of humanhood and how they get translated across different groups of people. It’s interesting that these translations create the notion that people in different continents are fundamentally different when that is not necessarily true. This idea played a major role in putting this article together. You sure did get a little “off the rails”! But, nonetheless, it was for discussion sake. So it’s all good!

    And yeah: look at mythologies across groups of people and you’re guaranteed to come across some parallels.

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