A New Perspective on Perspective


My recent trip to the Philippines was my first trip overseas – but far from my last. So many things were seen – everything from every day village life, the craziness of driving there, and the wonders of places like the Banaue Rice Terraces. I knew that a new perspective was inevitable when traveling to another country, and a developing one at that. But what I didn’t expect was the new respect I have for my own country.

I’ve always had a logical understanding of the privileges that come from being born in this country. I’ve always tried to be the person who reminds herself that “there are starving children in Africa” when I get bogged down in my own troubles. But it’s quite different from understanding that reality in your heart– I’m not sure how to describe it any other way.

I was surprised at the lack of pity I felt over the abject poverty there. Certain situations were very sad, don’t get me wrong – the emaciated animals, the mansions next to the family living in a shack, the mountains of garbage – but I didn’t feel pity. The more I learned about the people there, the more I realized they are strong orchestrators of their own fate. They are at the mercy of low pay and little national infrastructure, but this does not make them helpless. They are just as capable as you or I.

It seems to me there is a pervading national culture of acceptance of one’s position, with no interest in changing. (This cannot to be said for everyone there, of course, and goodness knows three weeks does not make me an expert.) But it seemed so very stark compared to what I see in my home country. Sure, I know quite a few lazy American peers who use little effort to get through life. But not like it was there.

There was also incredible generosity that I saw there – usually within a family, but generosity all the same. And there’s something important to be said about being happy about your lot in life and making the best of your situation. There are a few materialistic Americans I can think of who could partake in some acceptance.

All of this makes me wonder about evolution of culture. I understand it’s human nature to find comfortability, and that we don’t like to change from the status quo. It’s exhausting to be constantly energized and challenging everything, and it’s also a truth that as we grow older we grow more conservative and less likely to change. With the general trend of American citizens becoming increasingly uncaring and not engaging with government or reality, I wonder if we’re headed in the direction of the overt acceptance I saw overseas. And with the development currently happening in the Philippines, I wonder if there will be a surge of energy from the coming generations that will look a lot like the energy of the U.S.

Either which way, I didn’t expect to come to these conclusions. I expected to learn about another culture, but ended up seeing my own culture in more clarity. But I suppose that’s the funny thing about perspective – you can have an idea of what you may learn, but you’ll find lessons you don’t expect.

This was a bit of a mish-mash of some of my observations there, more of which I’m sure will follow. What do you all think? Have you had experiences that resulted in surprising conclusions? Tell me about your over-seas adventures!

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

14 responses to “A New Perspective on Perspective

  • globetrottingteen

    Love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Elmer Nev Valenzuela

    I dont think this country’s next gen would make the place a better place to live in, if you’d compare them from the past gens. I dont want to be pessimistic but we can see it around us now. There must be a taste of cultural evolution

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      That’s a good point! I’m wondering if that “tasting” of cultural evolution will occur, since we’re in such a global society now and can watch each other progress. Or do you think it’s still very inclusive – does the global society even matter? 🙂


  • Arpita

    I haven’t been outside my country, but I recently shifted from one part of the country to another. Parts of India, being a mix of so many cultures and people, can be drastically different from others – it is almost like being in a different country.

    The common language here is different from my mother tongue and though I am okay with it most of the time, there are times when I end up speaking in my mother tongue and then realizing that the person in front of me has no clue of what I am saying.

    Also, I am meeting a great number of people every day and learning to adapt being around them. It is challenging, but fun as well.

    I am sure I’ll learn my share of lessons in the coming days. Looking forward to that.

    Great post, by the way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      That sounds so cool! At some point I want to move, like you’ve done, to someplace different to experience it like that. It’s different when you’re just traveling, even if you do have people there that you can live with and see more of the culture first hand.

      I bet it’s challenging, but fun! Good luck with everything you’re doing! 😀 Thank you for the compliment. ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

  • The Feists Great Escape

    Three weeks is not enough time to understand let alone make judgements about a culture. The more you travel and immerse yourself the more you will understand there is something much deeper than what you see on the surface.


    • R. K. Brainerd

      Oh, I understand that completely. I’m much more interested in the subtleties and depth of cultures anyway. I was just sharing my thoughts and what my developing impressions are.


    • Vin

      Having been born and raised a good portion of my childhood in the Philippines I would have to say that the OP’s opinion is not far from the sociopolitical viewpoint that I’ve come to harbor towards the Philippines. While the people of the Phillipines have great opportunity to develop some squander while others rise to great accomplishment. I think pity is not what is needed for my birth country, but rather hard reminders that things like education, public works, and social economic responsibility are paramount the success of a developing third world.

      While three weeks is definitely not enough, perception on a scale such as that of the plethora of personal attitudes demonstrated by the Filipinos, can safely be generalized by the OP’s comments. Perhaps I’m simply biased as I wis for the best for my home country.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Feists Great Escape

        I think all Filipinos wish the best for their country. I was born there but raised in Canada so I have a different perspective on things. Yes, I believe they want better education, public works, etc. but unless they change the system (corruption, cronyism, nepotism, favortism) they will always remain in the same state as they are in now and have been since Marcos’ time. How do you fight that system? My husband and I have had many discussions and arguements about that but the answer is not so simple. Most Filipinos I know are hard working and want the same as everybody else in the world but realize to get ahead they must leave the Philippines. It is ironic that we will be moving to the Philippines.


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