I recently (well, this summer) watched This American Life. The show is usually broken up into segments in which they focus on they comedy and/or tragedy that are people's lives. For example, there have been segments about cloning a bull, a kid denying the existence of love, inmates escaping prison, and the search for a believed-to-be-extinct bird. After watching the entire series, there were two segments that I'm still thinking about.
Talk to an Iragi
This one was about a guy, an Iraqi, who ends up in NY for a fellowship, I believe. Like many of us, he doesn't quite understand why we, the US, invaded his country and continue to occupy. So he goes on a mission to find out. To talk to the average American. He travels around with this little stand (think: lemonade) that literally says "TALK TO AN IRAQI" and "IRAQI" with an arrow pointing down to him. Now I can go on and on about how frustrated I got with some of the people that chose to talk him and their, in my opinion, ignorant responses. But what has really stayed with me was him. His reactions. Some people apologized to him. Most did not. Some thought he was ungrateful. And even others tried to explain to him how the Iraqis really needed this; that they weren't free otherwise. Throughout all of this he remained receptive. He challenged back when appropriate, but was completely respectful and composed, while still being strong in his convictions. It was refreshing to see someone passionate about something but not flying off the handle in response to those that don't agree. So much of what is put on television are the extremes. Those people that will make for a sensational program. Those people, despite whether you agree with them or not, that make you cringe. They seem to be so pervasive that you can forget that they are, hopefully, the exception and not the rule. It's just nice to be reminded of that.
This segment was an adapted longitudinal study. A cross-sectional study, if you will, in which they reported on 7 different John Smiths. If I remember correctly, they were: 11 weeks, 8, 23, 36, 46, 70 and 79. It was interesting to think that these people were leading completely separate lives, at different stages, in different places, with different experiences, but with one common thread: their name. Made me wonder how many Meghan Housleys are out there. There is one I know of; we're facebook friends. She's a journalist. Twice a year, on the other's birthday, we share the same joke. Something along the lines of: "I was confused when facebook told me it was my birthday!" It's not much, but she's out there. With my name. Living a different life. It's a little surreal. Just wondering what the others, if they exist, are doing.