When thinking about how differences in people are manifest, one should consider how differences are made to disappear through communication. People from different continents, cultures, and social strata become less distinct after intellectual interaction.

As summed up long ago, we all inhabit the same space, do the same things daily, and have the same aspirations for our lives. Yet we remain suspect of those we don’t personally know. As long as this remains, no progress of society as a whole will happen.

One way available to anyone wanting to promote universal understanding is to give of one’s time and person to become a pen pal. Long ago this idea was promoted to small children in school, but has, like many of the things in life, been pushed aside by the many other things that vie for time everyday.

Far from being forgotten, there are small pockets of writers who become familiar with much different lives than their own, often becoming immersed in a cultural experience so strange, by proxy. These writers become intertwined in the lives of each other, learning much about the world outside what they can closely observe.

True friendships are the result of these interactions, which can last for a lifetime. Longer than lifetime pen pals have been noted, where a child of a passed writer takes over the communication with the parent’s pal. In this way, generational differences can be discussed and understood. Many stories of marriage of longtime pen pals are available, with statistics for marital longevity that make national norms look odd.

There are many organizations which promote different objectives for pen pal relationships. If one wishes to work on language skills, or simply retain those already gained, foreign language services are available. There are organizations that allow the relationship to begin based upon common love of something such as outdoor life, ecology, or something as mundane as bowling.

Whatever the initial thread of commonality, it soon becomes clear to all the participants, that more about human life is the same than is different.

[tags]pen pals, idea exchange, international exchange, common threads[/tags]