Thursday, September 28, 2006

The World Is Not Uniform

The sun was going down around 4:30 in the afternoon, as it does at this latitude during the short days of the year. One of the features of winter here: short days, early sunset and the sun goes down fairly southward. We know that, eventually, it will move more toward the north and set later, giving us lots of twilight to enjoy the evening baseball games.

Well, the student from Africa started to get afraid. He noticed the sun was more toward the south and that it was setting awfully early. I said, "Ok; that's what it does. What's the problem?" He still wanted to know what was wrong; I said, "Nothing; it's winter and that's the way it is here."

It turns out he's from the Equator, where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It comes up and sets at the same time every day. A few minutes after it sets, the sky is dark; not like our gentle and fairly long-lasting twilight. I had to explain that things are different up here at 42 degrees north latitude: the sun's location changes, its rising and setting times change, the light comes slowly and goes slowly.

This world is not uniform. I was in the Arctic one time and, waking up to take care of some business at 3:00 a.m., I noticed the sun was still hanging there as bright as ever. On the east coast of the U.S., we have hurricanes; some areas of the world have monsoons; elsewhere, you might see several tornadoes in a summer. We might gag just watching what some cultures think are good eats, as we wolf down food that sickens them just in the telling.

Who's to say which body parts can be shown, or must be hidden? We laugh at their hang-ups just as they laugh at ours. A couple of our beloved and positive hand gestures are, in other countries, either very negative or even worse. To tip a Japanese waiter is just as insulting as not to tip an American waiter.

No church, no political regime, no nothing will ever make it uniform. For this, we give thanks.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

It's always five o'clock somewheres

September 30, 2006 6:54 AM  

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