Being the “realist” (translation: pessimist) that I am, experiencing a new culture has had some downs. In addition to being a realist, I am also a highly observant person, who picks up on a lot of things. While I’ve been in the Czech Republic, one thing has really irritated me and I have had a hard time dealing with.
I often find that people here do not care about problems if it does not personally affect them in any way. Whether that is something as simple as someone getting harassed on the street to downright poverty and racism, I have rarely seen many people willingly offer a helping hand.
This all bugs me in particular because I am someone who wants to spend the rest of my life helping people. Yet, today I realized that I may not be seeing the whole picture…
You cannot judge a culture by what’s on the surface. Every habit and custom has some kind of history tied to it. The same goes for the Czech Republic. Communism hasn’t been gone for that long, and that is evident. Only the very young have been able to experience the world as a wide open place full of different people and opinions and progressive ideas. Before this time, there was one established idea. There weren’t multiple political parties and the world was not an open place to explore. Again, all of this changed fairly recently.
With this history, the Czech Republic has to now try to grow and thrive like every other country. It has to learn to accept other cultures and ideas. I have realized that this does not happen immediately. It is a process.
Like every other place on this planet, the Czech Republic has a history that affects the way it functions today. Whether that is valid or not is up for the individual to decide, but the fact of the matter is that you cannot simply judge a place without knowing the past it has.
I can now proceed forward with the rest of my time in the Czech Republic with this sort of knowledge in my back pocket. It will probably help me understand more and more. Every place has a context.