My Best Friend is a Mono-Cultural; Does that make me a traitor?

Recently, I’ve been somewhat convicted by the thought that I am betraying my TCK upbringing by claiming to be best friends with a mono-cultural (someone who has grown up in the same place/region as their passport).

What prompted this thought was that I was with a group of TCKs and the topic of engaging with mono-culturals came up and I was unpleasantly shocked by what I heard.

One of the first things uttered was “well, they can’t relate to us at all” and this was followed by “also, we are considerably more mature than our mono-cultural counterparts”.

Honestly, hearing these things made me want to denounce my TCK loyalties entirely.

It was frustrating to hear these things because one of the things we (the TCK community) pride ourselves in is being tolerant and accepting of other cultures…

...except the culture of our passport, apparently.

After hearing these comments, in a moment of weakness due to being baffled by this arrogance, I turned it on them and asked them if they’d be able to hold a conversation about SEC sports or if they understood the complex idiosyncrasies of Greek life on a college campus.

After I calmed down a bit, I began to process my defensive stance on this topic. There are people whom I love dearly who have only left the country a handful of times. These people are no better than I am and I am no better than they are. We all have different perspectives due to our cultural upbringing, but at the end of the day we are all sinners in need of a savior.

When I honestly consider my own experience, I realize I would never been able to learn the US culture without a “cultural guide”.

This is where our arrogance and humility intersect – we need our mono-cultural friends initially, but so often we then discredit their value once we’ve outgrown the need for them.

The conclusion I’ve come to is everyone has a place at the table.

I don’t believe anyone should ever discredit another person’s experience. Everyone you meet has had some experiences that are different from yours and some experiences that are shared – and this is no different for the TCK and mono-cultural citizens.

I would challenge anyone who thinks they don’t have anything else to learn, thinks their experience is more superior or thinks they have more to offer to re-evaluate this mindset. 

Consider where we (followers of Jesus) would be if Jesus took this position – because he very easily could have! He is infinitely better than we are and ever will be. He came to seek and to save – not to come and belittle our “meager” human experiences. He came in the flesh of a human, taking on the full human experience and validating sadness, grief and pain. He accepted people who were looked down on by society and encouraged his disciples to follow suit.

My challenge to you is to embrace differences. Humble yourself. Learn from other people who differ from you. Validate each other’s experiences by listening and learning to relate to one another.

After working through this on my own (and with friends, family, and my therapist), I am proud of the fact that I have been able to establish solid friendships with people who’ve only left the country a couple times. I love these people and they love me.

I hope that others are able to create and benefit from equally rich relationships with mono-cultural citizens.

Joel and his best friend, Jared, on their annual New Years trip. 
Jared grew up near Huntsville, AL and went to school at the University of Alabama. Joel and Jared met at church a handful of years back. Joel was also neighbors with Jared and his wife (Clara) for a couple of years. Every TCK has the dream to take their Stateside friends to their host-country, and in the winter of 2017/2018 Joel got to take Jared and Clara to visit Budapest. Jared is a singer/songwriter for Iron City Worship and is the worship arts associate at his church in Trussville, AL.


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