I have been able to gain some perspective since my last blog post. A good (and wise!) friend of mine who read my last blog post wrote me to remind me that there is learning in everything, that we can’t protect our kids from everything much as we want to, and that perhaps it’s not yet time to pack our suitcases and run back to the US.
“If you were in Boston, you would be trying to explain the bombing to your kids right now,” she wrote. This brought me some much-needed perspective. She made a very good point! Funny how in my moment of “there is a rock under the swing and nobody thought to remove it” fear, I forgot about the bombing or the school shooting in CT or the various other tragedies that have happened in the US during the past 2 years that we have been living in Colombia. Of course there was a bombing here too since we have been living here, but nobody made a big deal about it (other than a friend who used it as an excuse for arriving late, as in “Sorry I am late. The traffic in Bogotá was horrible because of the bomb that went off.”), so my kids weren’t even aware of it.
It has actually been enlightening. In my struggle to understand how nobody thought to remove the rock, I talked about it with a close Colombian friend who has lived in the US. She explained to me that people here in Colombia don’t typically think about prevention. It’s not in the mentality to think of what could go wrong and how to prevent this from happening. When things do happen, people tend to think “things happen” and do whatever needs to be done next to resolve things. People don’t spend a lot of time analyzing what happened and why it happened and who is to blame.
She also pointed out that most Colombians who know anything about American culture think that Americans are extreme in their overprotectiveness and rules and lawsuits. Point well made. And yet I can’t help but think (and my Colombian friend agreed) that there is a happy medium. Somewhere between lawsuits for everything and hours spent by “experts” on CNN analyzing what went wrong (in the US) and an ineffective judicial system that doesn’t hold anybody accountable for much of anything and people not really interested in why things went wrong (in Colombia), there needs to be a balance of learning from our mistakes so as not to repeat them and holding people accountable, while not going overboard and suing for millions of dollars because you burn yourself with hot coffee at McDonald’s. Food for thought….