Our itinerary as human being is to cross others realities. Aneth, a passionate teacher I’ve met in a childcare center in a poor area of Arusha in Tanzania once explained to me why did the moon had so many craters all over. Every night, the angels were hidden in the holes dug by God so they could still watch on us without being seen. With our atheist occidental spectrum, this poetic interpretation of the solar system makes no sense. However, in this situation, I was nobody to told this fully reasonable woman that she was wrong. According to her reality, the moon was a shelter for the angels, and so what? What if, thank’s to this statement, she felt safe and secure every night and what if I had told her that her allegation was not the truth? Well, during this discussion, I felt that my place was more of a listener, a learner than an adviser. The moon in Europe is upside down from Africa, so are our realities.
Our planet is composed by several different worlds. The perception of many human being conditions is remarkably different from worlds to others. Some situations that appear to be completely trivial for ones could be absolutely essential for others.
After spending the afternoon with this old-man coffee producer at the foot of the Kilimanjaro mountain, cultivating plantation, roasting the beans before grinding them, singing along, I’ve realised how much of a happy men he was. It was before learning that the grave in his garden was the one where his daughter was resting, passed away during the night. The point of view on death varies from culture, tradition or beliefs of course but what I’ve got from « Babu coffee » is that it’s always on you, on how you decide to react. He was not scared of death. The afterlife was part of his world and the changeover path didn’t matter. We all come to life with a certain reading grid. Raised in a rational and cartesian prism, open-up yourself to new realities teaches you how to listen without judgment.
I’ve worked with women with HIV who had nothing, like many in Tanzania, after an unconsensual pregnancy and no access to birth control. Rejected by their family, friends and society they somehow found the strength to go on with life. In their reality, the rejection is sadly usual so you accept it, you don’t fight against it. At one point, they turned on the survival mode.
Sometimes, a look is all it takes. You realize how much your upbringing and culture determines your way of seeing things. Gertrude is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. More than ten years ago, she suspected her husband to cheat on her. After a check-up at the hospital, she figured out that she was HIV positive. Obviously, the husband was the first infected but never got tested. She’s still with him, because he’s one of the only who didn’t left she said.
In the Maasai tribe, men are polygamous. As much as it can be disrupting, I’ve rarely seen a couple which complemented each other so well. The wife had an education and taught her partner how to write his name. The husband was strong and brave and he could jump the higher during the traditional dance. So they were in love. As well as he was with his three other wives. All of them for different reasons. Our monogamous reading grid is disoriented and it’s always hard to evaluate what’s acceptable and what’s not. Cultural truth doesn’t exist. Our perception only concerns us. We can be different, even in disagreement but finally it must be respected. Discovery shakes up conventional thinking.
As individuals, we all have our ideas about the world around us. Most of us think that we own the absolute truth. It’s all about changing our glasses. We can always decide to build a bridge between different worlds. Travelling is going to the other side to be surprised and come back to share. All it takes is to understand that we are the builder of the reality that surrounds us.