Showing posts from February, 2010
Here are some thoughts inspired by the This I Believe series:
I believe in asking for directions. Growing up, every summer our family went on a two week summer vacation. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we would economize by staying at campsites, or on rare occasions, not too expensive motels. We would also tend to plan too many activities, and because we were “in a hurry” to get to someplace, would get lost. (These were the days before GPS or Google Maps.) Usually my dad would be driving at such times, and he would never stop to ask for directions; he would keep driving forward, believing that “we would get there eventually.” At such times my mom would not be happy. She’d say, “Stop Bob! Ask for directions! Turn around!” But he kept going, and only when all hope was lost reluctantly back track in the direction we should have gone. Years later, when I was a junior in college, I spent a semester abroad in Greece. As part of our educational experience, during holidays (and they happened…

Are Americans Outliers?

As a professor of Communication, a field of study some consider to be a "Social Science," like Psychologists, Sociologists, and Economists, I am interested in studying and understanding human behavior and beliefs. However, I am unusual as most of my research and interest comes from the years I have spent living on the small island of Taiwan. As someone born and raised in the US, Taiwan strikes me as a fascinating place full of interesting surprises and contrasts with what may count as "normal" in the US. But then my wife, native of Taiwan, often asks me why anyone would be interested in learning about Taiwan? Why would Americans care about this island nation-in-dispute?
So should I be like most of my colleagues in the US who spend most of their time and interest surveying, conducting experiments, observing, recording the activities and reactions of Americans? Or, to put it more accurately, should I follow the vast majority who spend their time studying samples of s…

Blog theme--seeking wisdom

I've been talking with people about my newly created blog, and someone suggested to me that to write a good one, you need to have a theme. This is a great idea. One theme could be reflections on my work and experiences in Taiwan. But I'm currently not in Taiwan. So, at present I am more interested in the process of analyzing, writing, and reflecting. This is what I am doing in my "job" as teacher and adviser at the University of Oklahoma. And what comes from and through this process is the theme of "wisdom." How can wisdom be pursued, understood, and conceptualized? This is my theme.
My first reflection comes from notes taken from a wonderful book, Senses of Place (1996). Edited by Steven Feld and Keith Basso. The second chapter in this book, by Basso, is titled "Wisdom sits in Places." In it Basso discusses the process of learning and understanding wisdom from the point of view of the Western Apache of the Cibecue reservation. Below I'm pastin…