China/Seattle Is the World Really Flat?


I posted a picture of a street musician in Seattle playing the “erhu“. I had seen men playing this stringed instrument in a park in Beijing a year ago. The sound is so haunting and sad…not really melodic. I am told the Chinese play between the tones and we are not accustomed to the sound.

I was struck by the thought that one day those things we consider unique about other cultures will not exist anymore. The world will be truly flat, maybe not in shape, but in texture.

Seattle is known for it’s great coffees. It seems we have a Starbuck coffee shop on every corner in the United States. I can count at least four within 3 miles of my house here in Hillsboro, Oregon. Spain, Thailand and China all can boast the presence of a Starbucks on their street corners. But when I was inside the Forbidden City in China and found a Starbucks, it somehow did not seem good. The ancient Imperial Palace did not need a Starbucks.

I know we cannot change these things but I feel an urgency to see and experience the differences in cultures that make places around the world enchanting. As the world gets flatter, we will lose the smell, the sound and the feel of a truly “round” world.

Fred Ji was the man playing the instrument in Seattle. His English was broken and I am sure he had a story to tell. But, somehow, I would rather wonder than know for sure.

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