I always thought that I was pretty informed about the world. I knew more geography than the average American, I had a basic grasp on U.S. and world history. I knew that the United States was just one out of many countries that housed good, thoughtful, responsible citizens. Still I have learned so much more since I began following blogs from around the world. It turns out that I still held fairly one dimensional views about a lot of places.
Take New Zealand, for example. I have never been there, but friends have told me it is the most beautiful country they have ever visited. I knew that it had a rapid response after a mass shooting. So in my limited view, it was a great place free of problems. Then I read a New Zealand blog where the writer mentioned the homeless situation in New Zealand. What? Homeless in New Zealand? I promptly went on line and read about the very real problem of homeless people in New Zealand. My view had to widen.
Then there’s Kashmir. I had never even thought about Kashmir until I started following a blog of a college student who wrote there. He had only intermittent access to the internet since it kept being shut down. That got my attention of course. How could the internet get shut down in what I thought of as the free country of India? And of course now Kashmir is the focus of much news reporting, only recently coming from the local people who once again had their internet access cut off. I have no position on the India/Kashmir tangle, but I never even knew it existed before I kept a blog.
I have acquired book lists, song titles, movie recommendations, and recipe ideas from following others. But I am most grateful for the international community which took me out of my–as it turns out–very parochial view. Thanks everyone.