Debra Smith


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What have you learned as a result of your place (location) on this planet? Do we learn different lessons from different place?

It seems to me that people might learn different lessons from where they are - if our environment shapes us. I just wondered if that is true. For example a place with harsh winters may teach different lessons than one with eternal spring or one with monsoons might teach different lessons than ones with deserts. Please share whatever is relevant to you in this regared.

  • Aug 1 2012: To the original question I just have to say is that for the first part it depends on your relationship to the natural climate of the location. If you don't go outdoors you don't learn much from your location, if you do you learn a lot more about life and nature than you do reading books.

    To the second, of course! Lessons are perceptions based on your past experiences and upbringing. So it is completely individualistic. You could give a lecture to a thousand people and I would think there would be 500 different interpretations.

    To provide an example:
    A group of 5 approach an waterfall in the Amazon
    One sees all the biodiversity
    the second sees the aesthetic beauty of the whole scene
    the third only sees the flowers
    the fourth looks into the water
    the fifth sees the cash value of the area

    each one sees the same thing with different focuses and different priorities, thus they all learn different lessons from the same space. It would be the same of basically every location on earth
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      Aug 1 2012: Scott, lovely analysis and sensible assertions. This explains perhaps, why there are all personality types everywhere. If you consider an American from New York or one from Arizona or one from California, do you see commonalities in their behaviour or attitudes that could be contributed to by their place of origins? Please consider the sorts of stereotypes we all seem to have. If, scientifically we have stereotypes to reduce cognitive load= is something accuate in it - or is it simply one of those sterotypical thought processes that need to be guarded against?
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        Aug 1 2012: I would mention a true story about a plane that crashed in the Argentine Andes in1972. Those who survived, learned about themselves in a hard way something that they did not know.
        In a more peaceful environment, I could say, that environment influences us in every way, there is reciprocity. Humans are like flowers. They do need sunlight, attention, communication, caring, nice word and some material things.
      • Aug 1 2012: I have not met many people from the states, so I don't want to make generalizing comments.

        But the outside climate is an important aspect, as is how much exposure a person gets to other people. There will always be commonalities between people from the same area, stereotypes can be both good and bad, the problem is that the assumption colours our view in much the same way as my previous example. I do not think this can be avoided, but it can be reduced by increasing the amount of interaction between populations or by decreasing the amount of media coverage of different populations (they tend to be the negative aspects being shown).
  • Jul 31 2012: Hi all

    Good question Debra.
    if I start telling what I have learned it will be an endless. as you know Europe is so small but it has some many cultural differences.
    I found out is that every culture and tradition has something to offer you, things are not in your own culture. things that may not make sense to you at all, because you use different way of thinking.
    being interested in human nature I could find the importance of the circle we draw around us.

    Imagine you draw a circle around you (as big as you want) then think what you can put in it (it's up to you). sometimes even WHO you can invite in that circle, some come in and some leave who already been in that circle (time doesn't matter here). and when you move from where you were standing (your current location) you start to draw another circle. and again it goes around and around, each time your move each time you create a new circle, and when you stop a moment and look at it you will start to notice that you are living in bubbles, and you may wonder who is the mother of these bubbles.

    Apart from all these traditional life stiles you somehow manage to create your own.
    I think I learned creating bubbles (circles) and taking all the best I can into that bubble, keep them there and enjoy when I am again back to the babble.

    While I was writing this comment I was thinking If I can connect these bubble to each other, in one hand yes I can, but in the other hand there are certain non workable factors in X bubble for Y place.
    an example may be a help: Individual thinking vs Collective sharing.
    Some Northern European countries people tends to be individual thinkers.
    but in many Mediterranean countries people do live in a collective life where everything is shared.

    Sometime my North European thinking isn't accepted in Souther Europe, and vice versa.
    but when I am with North Europeans in the South then it works

    I grew up in South East, studied in the North, moved to South.
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      Jul 31 2012: I was in Europe last year, and I pretty much get exactly what you mean.

      If I can describe the places I've been to with one word each:

      London: Orderly
      Paris: Passionate (it really is the City of Love, I saw two people in the middle of the streets just making out with each other without a care in the world about everyone else)
      Germany: Efficient
      Copenhagen: Aesthetic
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    Jul 31 2012: Once we were molded by our geographical environment but technology has minimized the effects of physical environment as a shaping component of who we are. Central heating and air-conditioning; nearly autonomous, climate-controlled modes of personal and public transportation; highly efficient distribution systems for goods and services; etc. have homogenized the citizens of the first-world to the point of loss of uniqueness. Today one can be a happy metro-citizen no matter what the local weather or terrain.
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      Jul 31 2012: I always look forward to reading your thoughts and they always add something useful to my own thinking about an issue. Thank you , friend Edward.
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        Jul 31 2012: Ditto. Debra, ditto. By the way, Canada is reportedly the best nation for a woman to live, AND, Canada has passed the USA for average income. Maybe I have underestimated the formative power of location. Hmmm. Be well.
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    Aug 1 2012: Hi Debra

    From Singapore I learnt even a government organisation can work very efficiently and be corruption free (at least that's my experience says)

    In Saudi , I learnt how to remain focused to my deliverables ingnoring / absorbing all adversity and discrimination.

    In Sri Lanka , learnt being a developing country that was involved in war for around 3 decades, offering schooling for all, almost free & offering medical service to some extent to the remotest corner of the country is not an impossible task.
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      Aug 1 2012: You, sir are the Relentless learner that I am certain they are looking for. I just wish they recongnized them when they found them!
      Hello, good man!
  • Jul 31 2012: I have learned that I am quite lucky to have been born in the USA and quite lucky to have had grandparents with the wisdom and courage to emigrate from countries that held people down rather than encouraged their rising to actualize their potential.
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      Jul 31 2012: That is a major learning of many Americans through their "can do" culture which is empowering. If you think of the landscape geographically of where you grew up - do you think that you and the people around you were shaped by it?
      • Jul 31 2012: I do not know. I was born in a city and I am comfortable in cities and I like cities. Then I moved to a suburb next to a forest that I enjoyed exploring. I also enjoy the countryside, nature. I do not know the answer to your question. Furthermore, since I live in a free country, I made up my own religion which makes answering or asking questions a sin. In answering your question I sinned against my religion, but I do that from time to time like everyone else. Seems like you want the answer to be "yes, the geographical landscape in which I grew up shaped me." Maybe it did. I do not know.
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          Jul 31 2012: Oh Rhona, I am so sorry to have put you in such a position.
      • Jul 31 2012: That's okay, Debra. The vast majority of our contemporaries think questions are perfectly okay. I need to deal with this fact on a regular basis. Perhaps I will learn how to handle questions in a better way. We are all learning and growing. You are helping me learn and grow and I appreciate that. Thank you for all of your inputs that I have read here.
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    Jul 31 2012: I think I agree with your premise Debra. I'm a child of the American great plains, and I believe that's significantly influenced my mindset, probably in ways I'm not aware or cannot adequately express. For instance, when I've traveled the Appalachian region what I've found most strikingly different about the people is their 'closed-in' sense of community. In the Midwest, our sense of community can extend out dozens of miles, like our visible horizon, while in Appalachia, that same sense of community rarely extends beyond the nearest ridge line. In the Midwest, one can travel across the state with greater ease and less planning that an Appalachian can travel across the county, and I believe it greatly affects the disposition of the residents in both cases.
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      Jul 31 2012: Thanks, Lawren, this is exactly the sort of input I am seeking. We have some sense, even if it is never articulated that our home is somehow 'writ large on our hearts' . If I think of Americans from the midwest - admitted by stereotypical in the sense of my impressions are second hand and from media but also one visit and travelling with young midwesterners- I think of fresh openness, strength and good humour, maybe a practical common sense and hopefulness that I find somehow familiar and attractive.
      i do see personality differences in differing areas of your country too.
  • Aug 30 2012: I learn that we have to fail to learm from our mistakes. This is a painful truth.
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    Jul 31 2012: I pretty much grew up in a peaceful suburban lifestyle. My parents tried to get me into a lot of different activities like basketball, soccer, baseball, art, music, etc. I was also a TV addict, those 90's Saturday morning cartoons were still the best thing to happen ever! lol

    I can't say my life is that eventful like a lot of other guys I know, but this also allowed me to think a lot about things, especially recently in the middle of college. I'm majoring in this thing called Computational Media at Georgia Tech, which is a very good major for me imo. I think a lot of things conceptually and abstractly, not computationally, and Computational Media was a very broad, not-as-technical major. But I get a lot of exposure in a ton of things with this major. I know how to program stuff, do animations, etc. Pretty much anything.

    So that's really my background.
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      Jul 31 2012: It is facinating to know more about you! Thanks for that generousity.
      Would you be able to share some insight about the effects of your geographic origins for me? Did your climate, your geography or your proximity to water impact who you or your compatriots are? Elizabeth seems to have a simliar question going with a different focus and it is just one of those strange cooincidences that we were things of place half a world apart. Now, I know we have all manner of personalities from every place but I simply wonder if we are imprinted or impacted by our place of origin. I also wonder if people sometimes emigrate to be in more alignment with place? I am not even sure I can express my emerging thought all that well. Thanks, James for such patience.
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        Jul 31 2012: Hmm, well, in Dallas, Texas, it's really dry and hot. It easily gets 90-110 degree F. It probably only snows like once or twice a year. I really hate humid weather, even if it was only 70 degree F. The place we live in is also very flat. No terrain, or anything, just flat land. There are some farms and small forests, but that's pretty much it really.

        So, I think climate does impact the kinds of activities we do. Outdoor activities, unless it's too hot or blazing, are pretty good here. Not so much winter sports. Swimming is pretty nice here.

        But I think it's the people around us who make the bigger impacts. I wasn't in a really busy and crowded place like cities and urban life, we were given "better" opportunities to grow. I'm from a middle class family just like most of the people in my neighborhood. A bunch of kids here go to malls, watch movies, play games, hangout and do random stuff. Facebooking, is a very popular thing lol. There really aren't that many places to go to unless we drive all the way to downtown Dallas, the urban area.

        I also can't say our schools are really that bad imo. We don't have any bullies (not that I know of) or anything, we're very open about a lot of things like homosexuality and stuff. My school's sports team is ridiculously good. Our band is also very good. Our art has improved drastically in just 3 years while I was away in college. Only thing that still sucks is orchestra -_-. But yes, I think we did have very good teachers. I had the best, and hardest, English teacher ever. While I nearly failed the class, trying to get me to think critically about the Scarlett Letter, finally clicked towards the end of the term. And my Government/Economics teacher was also very good at making us think on our own.

        Point is, I was raised in a very good and sustainable lifestyle, while not being too spoiled (if I do say so myself hehe) and once I got to college, that's when things started to get awesome.
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          Jul 31 2012: James. I have only stereotypical knowledge of Texas except I was in love with a Texan once and I adored his courtley nature. I adored so much of what he was as a human being. I wonder how much of that was his upbringing or spirituality, his landscape and how much was unique to him?
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        Jul 31 2012: I really have no idea.

        I'm sure you've heard that everything is bigger in Texas, or we raise a bunch of longhorns and farms, like country music, we're all cowboys/cowgirls, pro-guns, etc.

        While Texas is conservative overall, Austin, Dallas, and Houston are about as Liberal as you can get.
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          Jul 31 2012: Yes, you hit the nail on the head and I suppose my liberal leanings would have been unpalitable to a Texan of different leanings or birthplace. He had some facinating stories of hazing from the not longhorn college and man could he cook TexMex. Enough to make a Canuk swoon!
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        Jul 31 2012: There are indeed a lot of TexMex's here, and some really good bbq places here too! But I still prefer Chinese food. But there's this one guy in my work who, at a party, cooked the greatest 30 pounds of meat I've ever experienced. He took that 30 pounds of brisket and just slowcooked the thing for 16 hours over night. TOO good :) That was something you could never find at a restaurant.

        And I mean, I personally thought my classmates were really open about their political parties (though a lot were also not really sure who they were with). There was this one guy, we always joke around with because he is THE most conservative guy ever, despite my class being predominately liberal or moderates. I mean sure he had some really whacky beliefs and all, but it didn't change the fact that he was a really funny dude and nice guy, as far as I know anyways. There was another girl in our class who was the most liberal person I know too. It's always fun when she and the first guy were in the same classes. Too funny seeing them go at it lol

        You can say Texas is divided into two rival schools: UT Austin vs Texas A&M. Liberal vs Conservative. Lolol
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          Jul 31 2012: James. I am out of thumbs up for you right now or you would probably have many more and I want to commend you for your approachable writing style. You make me feel as though I can see some of Texas through your eyes.! Thank you.

          The strangest thing is that liberals like me, not the ones who are such by rote but those who have thought things through and who have decided what they stand for, often adore those conservative guys even though they often detest us. It is nothing perverse but rather, having decided for ourselves what goodness is, we see many traits in these passionate conservatives that we can admire. For instance, I adore the courtliness of Bob and Edward. They never let me off the hook and I do not let them off either but you can feel their wisdom and their wrestling with the issues and that is worth respecting.
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        Jul 31 2012: Lol I ran out of thumbs up for a lot of people here too. I guess thumbing each other has now just become moot :P

        And thanks! I do try to improve my speech and writing to convey my thoughts as clearly as possible.

        After that one exchange with Bob on that Theory of Everything thread, I have gained a ton of respect for that guy for his experience, wisdom, and his confidence in his own beliefs. I haven't seen too much of Edward, but all his posts seem to be pretty concise, to the point, and efficient. He seems like an intelligent dude as well.
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          Jul 31 2012: The thumbs up are renewed when you least expect it! i have never figured out how it works but encouragement is a gift we can give the world and i find it fun. It is good for making the wheels of TED turn smoothly. If I can give a thumbs up to someone especially if we are often on opposite sides of an issue, it demonstrates that I hear and take their sharing of self quite seriously. It is good for us all. I am glad you see how worthy those two gentlemen are as well. You sir are well on your way, too! If nothing else, you might see that all you need to do is figure out what you believe and believe it with your whole heart and stay open to new information and people from all perspectives will value that.
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        Jul 31 2012: *Like*

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    Jul 31 2012: If I consider my place on the planet, Canada, I think it forms our national identity. Canada is a fairly safe and benign place so the world sometimes sees us as naive. We have strong, harsh winters which kill off so many nasty things. For example a few years ago at my company's head office in the USA we toured the infestation prevention labs and I was the only one who had no idea what I was looking at when they showed us their cockroach breeding place. Apparently, they do not do well here because of our winters. Winter, though, make us realize that we reallly need to rely on each other so we tend to see the logic of joint effort fairly easily. Our winters also impose a cost on our bodies so old fashioned French Canadian cooking is hearty and calorie ladden so those hard working (normallly male )adventurers had to be somewhat beefy and strong to survive.
    So what do you think is happening where you are?