July 12, 2018
In America, we have fast food.
In Europe, they have slow food. No really, it is an actual global movement and their logo is a snail.
I thought some of the restaurants we visited were just not efficient or maybe they didn’t understand how to turn a table and a profit.
In reality, their aim is to slow the pace of life, by “embracing a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture.”
You can read more about it here.
My point is after traveling almost three months across five countries, mostly by foot we have slowed our pace of life too, so that we are able to better engage with each other and with the locals. We have slowed our roll to enjoy the present. Especially the food, the people and the culture. We have especially enjoyed our home stays. We have found that as guests and not tourists, the locals are more kind. They share their homes, their hearts and their thoughts, especially over slow food.
When we are kind and respectful, they relax. If they like us, they may open up and share. This usually takes a bit of time, and a lot of active listening practice (eye contact, no glancing at our cell phones) except to help with translation.
The result has been rewarding. We are better listeners and we have a better understanding and appreciation for people and their role in and throughout history. We have become more culturally sensitive.
Below is a brief snap shot of their thoughts that we humbly share with you in the context of a non-political, political post. It is not meant to stimulate a debate, only to share what they shared with us.
Belgium couple: We are a small country of around 10 million. Life is very good there. When we are young we work and when we are old we don’t have to worry about money. We are given more then enough to live on comfortably. I work hard, and some do not but we all get the same when we are older. This is frustrating.
We are concerned about the amount of migrants and refugees. It is too easy for them to make Belgium their permanent home, whether they are legal or not. They are taxing our small countries resources, this is a problem.
UK couple: Brexit has caused problems for us. They said it would be good but we tend to act without looking at the long term ramifications. The details were not well planned out. London has changed, and prices have skyrocketed. Inflation is a big problem!
Young single woman from Spain: Good jobs for young people are scarce even if we have a degree. Universities don’t educate students in real life or teach them to think for themselves, they just teach us to pass tests.
Middle aged man from Swedan: I am concerned the US tarriffs negotiations is going to hurt the Swedish economy and drive up inflation.
Middle aged woman from Portugal: We are worried there will be another dictatorship. There used to be diversity in our Parliament causing checks and balance. Now the parties are too aligned, to much the same. There is no balance.
Middle aged man from Portugal: Goverment is not good. I am concerned there will be another dictatorship.
Young Tour Guide from Portugal: It was very difficult for people in Porto during financial crisis of 2008. It caused us to take a look at what we had to offer and reinvent ourselves to the world. It made us stronger and better.
Venitian, Airbnb Host/European Architect: Be careful of the immigrants, especially the Eastern Europeans (Don’t automatically judge him because he said this, you know nothing of his situation).
Tourists come to snap pictures and say they have been to Venice. But they don’t know Venice. They don’t understand our culture or learn our history. Our history, our art, our architecture is all very important.
Venitian Airbnb Hostest: (Note: She works with a non-profit legal firm that focuses on international humanitarian efforts pertaining to refugees in war torn countries around the world)
Why can’t we all be one human race with no boarders? Why can’t we come together to solve problems like we did with the boys in Thailand?
Young man from Pakistan: I came to Italy by myself. I have no family here and it is very hard. I am legal but can’t find work. I don’t like Italy, I want to go to London.
Even though we are all different, we basically want a lot of the same things…. to feel safe, to belong, to matter.
We want to live and love, and work and worship and raise families all within the framework of peace and freedom.
We want to be loved, appreciated, understood, heard and respected.
We want opportunities for a better education and a better life for ourselves and our families.
However life is full of challenges and the struggles are real. Maybe, just maybe if we all eat more slow food, and practiced active listening, we would build a little trust and the world would be a better place.