Cultural Differences

Reviewing the visits to the site since its launch, I was struck by the international identity of those who had clicked on the website. Four were from Greece, and one was from Israel. As an Army Officer I spent twenty-four years in the military; sixteen of those specifically related to duties as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO.) Additionally, after retirement, I travelled worldwide as an Independent Contractor for another ten years. Those twenty-six years gave me an appreciation for people of different races and creeds – their languages, customs, cuisine, art and religion. They highlighted our similarities as well as our differences and opened a window into the world and an understanding of different cultures that unfortunately many individuals do not share.

As westward expansion took place after the Civil War, it was the inability of the different cultures (Indian and white) to understand one another that led to conflict along the frontier. Neither side understood the other’s perspective, nor made much of an attempt to do so. The result was violent confrontation instead of accommodation, and the eventual defeat and subjugation of Native Americans.

It is in this context that the story told in my novel Palo Duro takes place. Hence, when I write that “Our Past is Prologue” it is meant to convey the message that there is much to be learned from history. Today we are witnessing misunderstandings and divisions that without context may seem to be unprecedented. However, it behooves us to draw parallels with the past and realize that our common goals and aspirations are far more important than our differences. The clash of cultures and ideologies is not predetermined. We have much more to gain through cooperation than confrontation, through inclusion not exclusion, through dialogue instead of intransigence.

In the end, both sides lost something; the Indians their freedom and way of life, the white man his freedom and sense of rugged individuality. Nostalgia over these losses resulted in the Wild West shows, dime novels, books, and eventually motion pictures. They seldom reflected the harsh realities of life by either side.  —  excerpt from Palo Duro.

Author: maxknight73

Retired Army Officer and Counterintelligence Specialist. Currently living in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Gray. Cancer survivor. Avid history buff and writer.

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