SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 277: “A More Conscious World”

History repeats itself with a different result. You may or may not remember the Third Street Promenade experiment that I conducted several months ago, or as I have now nicknamed it, operation SMO (Santa Monica Hello).

In it, I spent almost an hour reaching out with greetings to all that I passed before even one person responded with a positive verbal. And that person did so because it was their job in advertising a small café.

And today I find myself in the same situation. I don’t get it? There are thousands of people around, and this time in walking with my wife, I am definitely much less threatening than my last solo Promenade excursion.

I think the tourists are worried that I am trying to sell them something and the locals are buried in their own rushed agenda. For a place that is supposed to be a destination, it surely has a suppressive spirit. I may or may not return, time will tell.

Also, now that we have hit the less ninety-day countdown to the end of this phase of 365, I am reconsidering the communities that I travel too. So in desire of lengthening my stride, soon you will see me in the yet not visited China Town, The Korean District, Olvera Street, Little Vietnam, The Jewish Quarter, Little Armenia and whatever equally culturally colorful burbs I can get to before we hit September 9, 2012 (The official ending date of this portion of my 365 life change, more will be coming, I promise you that).

I confess my time has been limited. Trying to manage my business and personal time with that required of 365 has been quite a challenge. So The travel time is always a consideration in selecting my destinations, Plus, the cost of fuel is becoming a drag to my pocketbook. But, 365 is deep under my skin now, and I hope it is sinking into yours as well. I’ll do what I can to give us all more exposure to other ways of life.

Still, even though the bulk of our strangers turned friends have mostly been met in a fifty-mile radius of my home, we have been fortunate enough to meet quite the range of world citizens. This alone has revealed to us a very interesting cross-section of faiths, genders, ages, political views, race and countries of origin.

And, Richard, why the “History repeats itself with a different result” introduction?

I’ll explain… Today after another one-hour stroll, I am the one who this time receives the warm hello; it comes completely unsolicited, from someone who is completely aware of my presence and is also completely sincere and open in approaching me.

All give a warm welcome to Nazanin. Haling from Iran, she has been in the USA for 2 ½ years and is currently a student at a nearby college.

“Are you a professional photographer?” Nazanin asks.

You have to picture me; jeans, Columbian button down shirt and ten pounds of camera strapped over my shoulder. Perhaps yet another reason people are running from the tourist or paparazzi dude.

What’s really cool is Nazanin sees me not as a threat, but as an artist and fellow human. “Do you take portraits of people?” She questions.

Seems Nazanin is in need of some personal photos taken of her and has correctly profiled me.

We talk about her photos needs for a moment and as we conclude, I realize it would be completely wrong if I do not invite her to join us in 365.

At first Nazanin is a little reserved, but once we talk about the audience 365 has formed as well as the community it is creating, she comes on board without reservation.

“Avoid stereotypes,” Nazanin advises. “We need to not judge people. Like, if you know someone is Muslim, or Jewish or a different ethnicities, or from different religious backgrounds… we must avoid stereotypes.

We need to try to know each person on an individual level. If everyone would practice that… the world would be a much more peaceful place.

Too many people get victimized by general stereotypes that other people create, either politicians or ordinary people, it does not matter where it starts… we just have to treat each other better.

I’m quite idealistic, I know, but I hope that all countries will one day merge under one government. A government that keeps things in order, but I’m a liberal, so a government that does not too much meddle in people’s lives.

People forget what horrible things are happening in other parts of the world… And it is happening… People are getting killed.

I would like to see a world where everyone has a more awake consciousness towards other humans. The problem is that this just doesn’t come ordinary to them in focusing on the fact that people are getting killed or dying of hunger or all that…

…I just hope for a more conscious world.”