Danville Express

Column - January 5, 2007

Diablo Views: Danville vs. a global village

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Every time I leave town, I find myself saying, "This sure ain't Danville." ("Ain't" for emphasis.) This happens in San Francisco as I drive round and round the city blocks looking for a parking place, as well as in Central Valley towns that I navigate on my way somewhere else. There may be other places in the country and in the world that match this area for physical beauty, good weather, and the ease of living enjoyed in well-planned suburbs, but there are many, many more that do not.

People here know Danville is unique but it is still an eye opener to learn the facts about the diversity in the world. The World Citizen Foundation collected information about populations worldwide and compiled a "global village" of 100 people, keeping the ratios from throughout the planet. The residents of this global village would be half male and half female, as follows:

61 from Asia

21 from China

17 from India

13 from Africa

12 from Europe

5 from the United States

1 from Australia/New Zealand

This sure doesn't resemble Danville. And the languages spoken are interesting, too; fewer than 10 percent would speak English. It breaks down to:

22 speaking a Chinese dialect (18 speaking Mandarin)

9 speaking English

8 speaking Hindi

Darn, I was hoping English was more universal than that.

On the religious side, there would be:

32 Christians

19 Moslems

6 Buddhists

1 Jew

68 non-Christians, 15 of whom would be non-religious

What a diverse world we live in! It humbles me and makes me want to reach out to meet some of these people. Surely their outlook on everything from the origins of the earth to child-rearing to what constitutes a good meal must be different from mine. Even people I know from around here seem to differ quite a bit in their backgrounds and perspectives, so reaching out further for a conversation would be a real eye-opener. Unfortunately we probably wouldn't speak the same language.

Additional statistics in this global village are sad. There are only 30 out of the 100 who have enough to eat. And although 88 of them are old enough to read, 17 of them cannot. Oh, and this village of 100 has one teacher. Actually I'm surprised there are that many teachers in the world. That's good news.

When I passed through Heathrow Airport in the fall, I definitely knew I wasn't at home - the long, snaking line waiting to go through the security check contained more people than I've ever seen in the whole of downtown Danville, except maybe at the Fourth of July parade. And the crowd was diverse, in appearance and in languages. But we all had something in common: We could afford to fly internationally and we had somewhere to go. So obviously this was not a cross-section of the world's total population.

So what will the world look like in 100 years or 200 years? Are Danville and environs going to begin to resemble the world at large? Will those of European descent still prevail? Will English be the predominant language? Ah, for a glimpse into the future.

This look at the present from a global viewpoint puts our home into perspective. We know the world is shrinking whether or not we ever travel. Just read the labels on your clothes and household goods. Although some clothes proclaim they are "Made in the USA," I don't see any clothing factories around here. At this very moment, my husband is assembling an exercycle that is labeled Hecho in China.

The Internet with its news and photos presents the entire world in a bundle, but small parts of it are vastly over-represented while others are under-represented. Newspapers and television also show scenes from around the globe and glimpses into others' lives. But the stats from the World Citizen Foundation are the best way I've found to grasp the reality of our planet's population. And these statistics highlight how unique our home truly is.


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