This is the personal side of 6 degrees of separation in a multi-cultural world. That has expanded, in our times, to connecting us to a major part of the world’s peoples. Those have expanded opportunities for everyone who is part of that network, the social equivalent to Metcalfe’s Law.
I push the evidence for evolution of civilization depending on continuous input from other cultures. My reading of history says all civilizations have in fact been a result of combinations of prior cultures and technologies. My understanding of evolutionary systems and they way entities within them must act to succeed says that is necessary and more or less inevitable when multiple cultures interact peacefully. The economy is not the only display of invisible hands of evolutionary forces.
My life in the last couple of weeks give examples of benefits. Last month we attended a birthday party for one of the small business owners in my wife’s circle. This was their family and a few mutual friends in their social sphere. My wife knows many because they are also her clients and or the salons’ clients.
I am the only native American not one of their kids in the group, so a bit of an outsider, except the group doesn’t have more in common than that they came from somewhere within the old USSR or one of the adjacent countries in turmoil. They don’t speak common languages except English and Russian. For most, they were cosmopolitans before they came to the US, mixed Muslim-Jewish or Jewish-Orthodox marriages or Slav-Montenegro, etc. We have a lot of different people in our extended group, all from foreign countries and all associated entirely by choice in a community formed in the last 30 years and still growing and changing.
The brunch was held in a nice touristy restaurant with a great view in the near-by tourist city*. The food was not up to our area’s standard, I thought, though perhaps better than the scenery would allow.
It was a very mixed group, children to retirees, a wide range of professions. My wife cut many peoples’ hair, but is a key in the group because she refers her clients to cleaners, lawyers, auto repair shops, caterers, musicians, … some of whom were in the group, e.g. the caterers. Others were medical techs, engineering management, software, real estate, and VP marketing, psychologist, business analysts, HR, construction. Solidly middle-class taxpayers unless still in school or retired.
So, lots of talk, toasts to the woman whose birthday it was. People moved from one table to another. Then the cake came, fancy, we all sang “Happy Birthday”, including the Chinese family (all born in the US, I thought) at one adjacent table and the black couple at another. The Chinese carried on a bit of conversation with us as the party wore down, they much appreciated some of the gifts and the cake — they all had a piece of cake with us.
One of the retired people turned out to be an ex-government minister of a Muslim nation with oil, who described the situation his country was in wrt all of the surrounding forces, the general opinion of Erdogan (ambition exceeds capabilities, religion as a basis of gov is a trap), etc., quite interesting to get their point of view.
Last week, my wife threw a large bash here in the too-small apartment, we fed 34 people and the eating, drinking and socializing continued through of a long evening. Overlapping group with the above, e.g. the caterers and some friends, various other friends and business associates and family. She made almost all of the food in 2 days of frantic cooking, including the day of the party she came from the salon at 2PM to finish cooking and setting things up. The caterers said my wife’s food was as good as theirs (yes, it was), except for the fish, which was better than theirs, and they wanted her recipe.
Again, much conversation : one knot was software and hardware entrepreneurs, my kid was discussing a Kickstarter project he and a friend are working on with a relative who does software and is part of a different entrepreneural scene. I heard discussions about the current market in real estate, the long hours of the VP marketing in a startup (he recently joined from a big company VP position) selling in so many time zones, the progress of a manufacturing company, the catering business, dance studio owner (she has 3 locations now) lots of family and friends and Facebook posts and news stories and … One person was a founder of quite a significant software company, he and his wife talked with different people through a long evening. They were the link that got my son a job with another of their friends.
All long-time friends and associates, real people, exchanging information, gossiping. They must have enjoyed it, we nearly ran out of food (never happens) and they drank a lot of wine, a bit of vodka, a bit more single malt.
Most of these people have many friends and relatives in other countries, keep up with the news there. There were many ‘here vs there’ comparisons of business, education costs (so cheap, a year of study abroad is less to much less than US costs) general economic progress, business opportunities. Several do business overseas. I know of 4 who have side business projects in addition to their main job.
This group represents a modern world. They share only their time here in the US, meeting in many ways since they arrived. We met many through dance and my wife’s salon or previous haircutting. Others are their friends, or met in one of the courses they have taken, these folks take a lot of courses.
They interface to the rest of US life by the ones of us who married into their orbit, other friends, their jobs, now their children or grandchildren. As a group, they pay a lot of taxes and provide more than a few jobs to folks definitely not in their circles. Their sons and daughters marry as culturally promiscuously as have all other generations, the easiest way to mix cultures.
Our kids are friends, tho most of theirs are off to college, ours hasn’t decided to do that yet, is working full-time. Those seem as enduring as high-school friendships can be, he gets together with them whenever they are back in town.
It has taken me a few weeks to finish this, as I write slowly. Meanwhile, we have gone to a few other parties, including a mother’s day brunch that had the usual 3 languages being spoken around the table, this time Chinese was added as a 4th to that mix, as they had a neighbor and her 2 children. Chinese woman had grown up not far from my home in Ohio.
We live in the midst of very great diversity. I just came back from an appointment, passed 2 Vietnamese grandmothers I recognize from my walks, said ‘Hello’. The Indian family that runs the 7/11 lives near us, we all recognize each other, are friendly. New people upstairs, an American woman, lovely baby, probably Italian husband, we will have them down for a bunch some Sunday soon. I can walk to 2 Halal markets, a Kosher market, Persian markets, Vietnamese-Chinese groceries. Within 2 miles are at least 2 Japanese groceries, half a dozen or more Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese and other restaurants, …
Our neighborhood is very safe, I haven’t heard of a burglary or mugging. We don’t hear about any ethnic disputes, so far as I can see, the ethnic dimensions cause no problems whatsoever.
From my family’s point of view, multi-ethnic is normal and desirable. There are no downsides of any serious import, and many, many positives, opportunities arising from the differences. It is the way the future is built, and the only negatives in our future are government-directed.
*I don’t give details of my life because I want to protect friends and family from association with me and my views. They are good people, don’t deserve that.