Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Continent-AL Divide

I recently got into an argument with my girlfriend from Rio because their country teaches that the two Americas, South America and North America, are one continent. My geography is a bit rusty, but I remember being taught they are separate continents, and looking at them on a map or globe, this seems clear to me. Yes, Central America runs as a trail down connecting them, but then the Panama Canal completely divides Central America in two (and Panama, too). So, I still think they are not the same continent. They look like landmasses that are totally different in shape and form. And culturally, there is little connection, other than the fact that American cultural influence (North America I mean) is so predominant the world over.

I know this seems like a silly thing to argue about and be concerned with. But then again, what happens if I marry her and we have kids and then my kids start learning this stuff. Do I want them to feel stupid around their friends at school or be mocked because they are learning different truths about geology than their friends? I guess it would depend on where we live. But these kinds of issues can be important to think about, and the truth is, it has me wondering how crosscultural couples deal with it. I also wonder how the world came to have such division in science. Why, for example, does my country still use miles and inches and yards when the rest of the world uses kilometers and centemeters and meters? Why do we use gallons when the rest of the world uses liters? And why are we learning a different system of continents than the rest of the world? How does this help our children be competitive on the world stage and how does it help us understand and communicate in a world which increasingly requires cross-cultural interaction in business and daily living?

I mean, I still have a hard time with Bianca's argument. To me there is Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Antartica and Australia. To her North and South America are combined and Australia is part of Oceana with New Zealand and other islands clearly not connected to it by any land mass if you just use common sense and look at a map. Does it matter for our relationship? Probably not. But it is something we can continue to argue about. She hates when I tell her she is on a different continent. And that cracks me up. But what about children? How will they handle such confusing information? They will be born into a world that increasingly will require them to know how to talk across cultures with people who have learned something that is supposedly scientific yet may be completely different from what they know and have come to believe. How will they do it? Will they become frustrated and angry? Science, as I was taught to believe, is not perfect, and is full of theories, but there are certain indisputable facts, and I guess I thought the continents was one of them. Certainly it ought to be something we can all agree on. I mean, how much is there to debate about? But what about our children? How will they function in such confusion?

Not that I personally put too much stock in science. As a Christian, I don't believe in a lot of scientific theories. A lot of it is just plain bunk based on false pretenses that come from lack of faith in God. Nothing founded without belief in that, in my opinion, is worth much. But a lot of people live their lives that way. And the confusion that is resulting could be very harmful. Don't you think so?

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