There’s something so odd about going to Asia and attending an event that is thoroughly American in history and flavor. Cinco de Mayo was started in the United States by Mexican-Americans to celebrate the victory of Mexico over France at the battle of Puebla in 1862 (on May 5th of couse). It’s not a major holiday in Mexico, but it’s certainly an excuse to drink beer and party in the U.S.
What, then, does it mean to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Japan?
After the poorly equipped and hugely outnumbered Mexican army routed the French at Puebla, no other European army ever tried to invade in the Americas again.1 The holiday is, then, a celebration of the independence of all the Americas. That’s exactly how the Japanese version was presented — a celebration of the Americas.
There was food and drink from different countries in the Western Hemisphere. There was music and dance from lands on the other side of the world from Japan. We were impressed with the representation, and also that we could even talk to some of the Japanese in Spanish and Portuguese.
I love that the world’s cultures are getting more and more intertwined and mixed up. The truth is that we are not so interconnected as has been touted. For the most part, your friends live relatively close with maybe a few exceptions. If you track the physical distance of all your phone calls, you’d find the average is unlikely to reach very far.
In spite of these facts, the world is becoming more mobile and more connected. The people who live in a country different from where they were born is now the fifth largest nation in the world.2
I believe the more we exchange ideas, the more we interact in the world on a personal level, the greater there is the possibility of peace. The more we understand other cultures, the greater is the chance of working together to save this Earth. I find the possibilities exciting.
Deena and I enjoy being nomadic. Maybe, in some small way, our purposeful interactions contribute to this greater understanding. Perhaps, in the fashion of Gandhi3, our terribly insignificant actions are terribly important. At least, that’s my version of the “trickle-down” theory. It’s what I want to believe.
I agree with the conclusion of Pico Iyer who said
“…the typical person I meet today will be, let’s say, a half-Korean, half-German young woman living in Paris. And as soon as she meets a half-Thai, half-Canadian young guy from Edinburgh, she recognizes him as kin. They fall in love. They move to New York City… And the little girl who arises out of their union will of course be not Korean or German or French or Thai or Scotch or Canadian or even American, but a wonderful and constantly evolving mix of all those places. And potentially, everything about the way that young woman dreams about the world, writes about the world, thinks about the world, could be something different, because it comes out of this almost unprecedented blend of cultures.”