Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
This week, I’m combining my normal British Isles Friday post with my Compassionate Sunday post. Since February, I’ve been working, one step a month, through Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. November is for The Tenth Step: Knowledge. The first assignment in that chapter is:
…choose a foreign country that you find attractive. It may be one that you enjoy visiting and know quite well, or if you have not had much opportunity to travel, choose a country that has intrigued you….The point is that you will now be activating and interest in the “stranger.” Once or twice a month make a point of reading an article or a novel or watching a movie about the stranger you have chosen, so that it becomes a vivid or regular presence in your life. Ask yourself what this…can teach you. Are there things that they do better than we do? Have they influenced us in the past? What do you think that we could teach them? p. 159
That sounds like British Isles Friday to me! But, also, it’s a way that I can add some intentionality and depth to this series of posts.
Karen Armstrong used her English self as an example:
As you progress, you will probably become aware that everything is more complex than you thought. We tend to see other peoples in simplified snapshots similar to the sound bites of the evening news that stick stubbornly in our minds. People often assume, for example that London is perpetually shrouded in fog, because they have seen too many television adaptations of Charles Dickens, and that it is always raining, even though London actually has less rainfall per year than Rome, Istanbul, or Sydney (though I fully admit most of it does fall in summer!). People also seem to think that Britons drink gallons of tea every day and reel back in astonishment when I refuse a cup–I have disliked the stuff all my life! pp. 160-161
We spent three weeks in England in September 2014 and it only rained once! So my vision of London has blue skies with fluffy white clouds. The tea thing, though, is interesting. One of my favorite days in London was the day we visited Twinings tea shop. I have to admit that most of my fellow shoppers appeared to be tourists, like me.
Since I’ve been making British Isles Friday posts, I’ve learned about the suffrage movement in the UK, how and why actors with interesting faces get more work in Britain (read the comments on that post), and steam engines in Birmingham, in the Black Country, in London, and on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Does learning about other countries help you develop a habit of thinking about complexity? And, does that lead to more compassion?
For our British friends, how are you dealing with the uncertainty of Brexit? Do you have advice for those of us dealing with the surprise result of the US election?