Carmel and her abusive husband, Matthew (1989).

Carmel and her abusive husband, Matthew (1989).

 In an abusive relationship, stonewalling may become a fundamental tactic, because it is a way to apply pressure that seemingly can’t be confronted, because the abuser is “not doing anything.”


Cross cultural communication

A Vietnamese speaking friend asked me to explain the difference between “convention” and “convection”. After defining a couple of the meanings of “convention” and trying to explain the basic scientific nature of “convection”, he showed me the newspaper headline that he was trying to decipher. It read: “Wrongful Conviction”.

It reminded me of how much of what we say is open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. We are misunderstood far more often than we realize because all communication is, in fact, cross cultural.

The conscientious alien

I often notice how my thinking, my frame of reference, is different from folks around here. Many times I feel uncertain and I don’t know if I understand what people are saying or not. That is the plight of the conscientious alien.


People have a way of accepting their culture as both the best and the only way of doing things. They don’t fully realize that their perception of “normal” is  not universally shared, but exclusive to their culture. This attitude is called ethnocentrism, a belief that not only one’s culture, but one’s race and nation form the center of the world.

Time travel

American provincialism

I am an alien. Many times, I feel like a time traveler, too. The advanced technology, the infrastructure, the variety of goods and services available, the affluence… It is not any of that stuff I have in mind when I feel as if I have traveled back in time. Think of bible thumpers beating their children senseless or denying them life saving medical care. Rednecks who know the proper place for women, and know how to put them there if they get out of line. Those non natives who think of themselves as the ‘real’ Americans with the ‘correct’ values and patriotic sentiments. And all those people who know little more about the world than that it isn’t flat and Canada is north of ‘here’. Cults, con schemes, mind numbing entertainment. This country has no shortage of pretty extreme examples of stunted development and backwardness. But the extremes are not really much of a concern to me. They are far away. They don’t impact my life. I read about them. I hear about them. I shake my head in disappointment and disbelief, knowing that my reactions are in unison with a large part of the educated, more broad-minded population.

Actually, it is this educated, ‘broad-minded’ category that really make me feel like I have arrived from the future.

To be continued…

Blog at