If I were doing a word association exercise, it might go something like this: Black (White); Turkey (Thanksgiving); Car (Repairs) Fast (Ticket) Cosmopolitan (Cleavage).
What I tried to do there was to show that many of us don’t have much association for the word “cosmopolitan” beyond the famous magazine that showcases a woman of striking physical features each month on its cover. A lot of people are familiar, at least with the cover, of “Cosmo.”
For the educational edification of all of us, whether it is first time knowledge or a refreshing of knowledge, here are the relevant definitions of “cosmopolitan” from my trusty college Random House Dictionary:
“Cosmopolitan (koz’ meh pol’ i tuhn) 1) adjective – definition: belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the political, social, commercial, or intellectual world. 2) Noun – definition: a person who is free from local, provincial, or national prejudices, etc.; a citizen of the world…”
So, as Sanpeters, now that we know what cosmopolitan means, it’s only natural to ask ourselves, “Are we cosmopolitan?” I’ve seen some high school and college girls around here who look cosmopolitan. But that doesn’t count. That’s just me reverting back to the first mentioned, word association, non-definition of the word. (I’ll try to get that out of my head.)
I think many of us would immediately wave off any thoughts that Sanpete is cosmopolitan. But I think that would be hasty thinking. Consider a few facts.
1) Sanpete has a significant Hispanic community, which contributes to the diversity of our population. We, and our children, learn, right here in Sanpete, that cultures and languages can be different among neighbors and fellow students.
2) The temple in Manti attracts people from around the world to Sanpete. This was especially true during the annual two-week pageant. Even though the pageant has been discontinued, many visitors will still come to Sanpete because of the temple.
3) Sanpete is loaded with men and women who have lived abroad. Many of these folks have been in the military. Many more are people who have served religious missions. There are people who live here who are familiar with the cultures and languages of; I dare say, the majority of the countries of the world.
4) Sanpete has been a popular place for international students to come to school – both at Snow College and on high school programs. Personally, our family has hosted a dozen or more of these students for significant periods of time. We still have contact with many of them.
I believe that now is a great time for us to be thinking in a cosmopolitan way. Now, more than ever, the world is a global community. It’s also a global economy.
Things that happen on one side of the world have a ripple effect that goes to the other side. All the hubbub with the European Union and trade agreement negotiations, etc. are examples of that.
The world is in turmoil and there are people on the move. The refugee and immigrant situation in many areas of the world is overwhelming. I know it’s a touchy subject in the world. How many can any one country take in? And how fast can they do it.
As of 2017, the latest figures I was able to find, Utah had about 60,000 refugees living here, according a University of Utah report. I would say that’s a pretty high number for little old Utah.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic Community Services and many other religious organizations, have the continued position of providing relief and help for those in need. The LDS Church has initiated an effort called “I Was a Stranger” which emphasizes helping refugees. See: churchofjesuschrist.org/refugees
A while back, I was impressed to hear a humble, young man give a talk in a church meeting here in Sanpete. He told of meeting a couple from India at a restaurant in Utah County. He found out about their difficult and abusive circumstances. They had gotten to the United States and Utah under some misrepresented promises and were now essentially in bondage.
The young man wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do. But he remembered that he belonged to a church that taught love to all, regardless of their faith. He made phone calls. People helped. An attorney got involved and over time straightened out legal matters – pro bono.
Night has turned into day for this couple because someone was a “cosmopolitan, citizen of the world” in behalf of someone in need. The bible parable of the Good Samaritan can be a reality.
Let’s celebrate cosmopolitan Sanpete. Granted, we’re not New York City. But we don’t want to be New York City. It’s just good to be in a place where we have opportunities to understand that the world is not a mirror image of what our lives are like here in America and in Utah’s Sanpete.
Different points of view, tolerance, perspective, friendship, creative problem solving, respect for diversity and fun are the positive by-products that come to my mind when I think of living a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Being a cosmopolitan doesn’t mean abandoning beliefs and opinions. It means broadening horizons and inviting the world to know you, and who you are, as you get acquainted with the world.
I will now come down off from my “soap box.”
It’s a great summer in Sanpete. Enjoy!