Miami and Me….and You

 “Almost everything strange washes up near Miami. ”
Rick Riordan

Back in the 80s I moved to Miami to go to school (“Go Canes!”).  Miami was unlike any place I had ever lived before; it felt very alien to me for a pretty long time.  Even after it became “home” I was still, always, very aware of just how different this new home was compared to my old.  I was literally thrust into a new culture, a new world, all surrounded by a totally new ethos (“ethos” is the fundamental beliefs or attitudes that shape or define a person or a culture).  I had to deal with this reality in my mind and heart on almost a daily basis.

I actually loved Miami, I still love to visit; but I never fully assimilated.  I adapted, and in many ways I was changed; but I didn’t change completely.  I retained much of my former self, especially in my ethos.  The South Florida culture was, in the end, so very different that I had to make choices about who I am.

Well, maybe I didn’t have to make choices.  I guess I could have just become part of culture.  I don’t know – is that what most people do?

The reason I ask is because on a much bigger stage, with much greater consequences, “we” have mostly assimilated the incredible changes occurring in our culture, most importantly in our individual and collective ethos.

In my article dated September 6th I highlighted the reality of our rapidly changing culture.  The rate of change has caught even social scientist off-guard – “The end of the first decade of the 21st century marks a turning point in the nation’s social, cultural, geographic, racial and ethnic fabric. It’s a shift so profound that it reveals an America that seemed unlikely a mere 20 years ago…. The metamorphosis over just two decades stuns even demographers and social observers.”

We don’t just live differently (new technology, etc.).  We see and understand the world in entirely new ways; we have different values, different morals, different beliefs.  And these changes were, for the most part, seamless – few of us resisted change, few of us even considered what it is that we are “becoming”.

When I was in Miami everyday seemed to be a new experience for me.  I was constantly aware of my place in the culture.  I made choices about “who I am”.  The shift we have experienced in culture over the past few years makes my experiences in Miami seem small indeed.  How is it that we, for the most part, have so easily changed, especially our ethos?   As I asked on September 6th – did we really make a choice about any of this, or were we simply swept along with the racing currents of culture?

We’re very different today.  What have you gained; what have you lost?  I fear we have lost much…..

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