As I began to learn about the normative norms of this small community, I began listening closely and trying, albeit not always successfully, to be respectful of the lens through which they viewed the world. It was fall and I was told that a holiday was coming and the schools would be closed along with the church. It was an unusual time for a holiday so I inquired what it was. Simply put, it was the first day of buck season. Yes, the community called a holiday so the community could go hunt a buck (male deer).
My world was spinning. As a city slicker, hunting was never a part of my world, let alone a holiday to go hunting! Yet, I learned that many in our community relied on the venison they would harvest to survive the winter. A blue collar community used this special day as an opportunity to provide for their loved ones and ensure that they had meat in the freezer. In fact, we had five huge freezers that would suddenly be filled with venison, bear (yes, they hunted that too!), quail, and other game. Throughout the year, they would use this meat for community meals and feeding the hungry!
Although we all were Americans, if felt as though there was a whole different America to them. I had the naïve perception that people saw the world through the same lens as myself. I assumed that most people experienced life in a similar ways and that moving from one place to the next wouldn’t be all that different. Yet, when the fullness of this culture was being shared, I learned that their experience of life was drastically different than mine…and that neither culture was the ‘right’ culture. Instead, their culture fit their reality and I had to choose: to change my cultural preconceptions to become a part of theirs, or to move along.
Have you ever pondered what unspoken cultural biases and/or tendencies that you have? If you are a transplant to Hawaii, you most certainly have experienced the reality of your own cultural normative faced with the normative culture of these islands. But even if you are from Hawaii, are there unique cultural realities among us? Between islands; or even from the Windward side, to town, to Waianae? I wonder, what cultural undercurrents guide your perception of others and your interaction with them?