Cast wide your net.
Sometimes when we're looking to make new friends, we look for people that are like us. They have the same hobbies, go to the same school, have the same outlook on life. If we only do this, we're missing out. The world is beautiful and the world works because of its diversity. Cast wide your net that you might catch friends that challenge you, surprise you, and make you a better you. And, here's hoping you do the same for them.

Addendum: During this challenging time, many are witnessing the best and the worst come out in our friends. Let's withhold our judgment regarding the latter; anxiety makes some into different people. This is also a unique time that we can cast wide our nets and reach out to family and friends we've lost touch with--intentionally or otherwise--as well as new or "almost" friends. Let's take this opportunity. Try it this week: contact one person, just one, and tell them you're thinking about them.
 
     -The Godmother
Narrow "nets" in Cambodia: Ninety percent of Cambodians are Khmer. In fact, the country is called srok Khmai, the land of the Khmer. They don't mix much among ethnic groups; in fact, they don't mix much across any divide. In my class, the math majors sit with the other math majors, the Khmer literature ones with each other, etc. The best case scenario is that Khmer tolerate diversity; good luck convincing them to foster it, to celebrate it.

The most troubling consequence of this attitude is unfairness, an absence of justice for all manner of people. I try to tackle this in class with such activities as a role-play simulating John Rawls' brilliant Veil of Ignorance thought experiment. But, I have found, reaching across divides does not happen as a result of theoretical discussion; it happens because one person courageously stretches her hand out across to another, as it was for Tung in my class some years ago.

Unfortunately, discrimination is rising in recent weeks against persons the Khmer perceive to have brought and spread COVID-19, e.g., discrimination against Chinese (despite Westerdam), Cham (a Muslim ethnic minority), and us from the West. But just yesterday, as a waiter walked away from my table having taken my order, he said, "We're all in this together." Yes, indeed.
These are times when media folks are looking to post positive stories, stories to counterbalance the doom-and-gloom content that is so pervasive. Maryknoll's own Meinrad Scherer-Emunds, Director of Communications, did a write-up here of this little Godmother's Advice project. Thanks!
Did you miss a previous Godmother's Advice email? 
  • #001: Khmer boxing & solving problems
  • #002: Workers' commute & "making room"
  • #003: Bright balloons & dangerous attractions
  • #004: Bats and others' ways
  • #005: Playing in the mud
  • #006: Tattoos and bad habits
  • #007: Make-believe
  • #008: Dental and other care
  • #009: Boat races and collaboration
  • #010: Loads carried
 
  • #011: Nothing beyond repair
  • #012: Solid bricks
  • #013: Toilet left standing
  • #014: Flying a kite
  • #015: Everyone is held
  • #016: Dry fish in the sun
  • #017: Little children
  • #018: Worth looking for
  • #019: Two-way windows
  • #020: Heroes emerge
Background about this email: Several years ago, I was feeling like an inadequate Godmother due to my absence in the US and, consequently, my absence in my Godsons' lives. I decided to send what little advice I have as someone who has been in the world for 30 years longer than they. Thus was born my Godmother's emails--a tidbit of advice each week. I decided to share these emails with friends and others because I feel that  folks need some good, helpful or happy things in their Inbox these days. This particular one is new; I never sent it to my Godsons. I hope these Godmother's advice emails are good, helpful or happy for you; otherwise, unsubscribe below.
This email and my work in Cambodia is made possible by the Maryknoll Lay Missioners program through which I work. To support me, use this secure online form. If you are outside the US, you can donate through PayPal.com (specify "maria_montello@yahoo.com" as the recipient).
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