For a change, I’d like to start off with a quote. “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.” – Paulo Coelho
Recently I’ve been watching a segment that Conan O’Brien has been doing on his show called Conan Without Borders. The basic premise is that Conan gets himself an ambassador, essentially, to a culture, and travels to a location to do his show abroad. He had Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead show him around South Korea, went with his Armenian assistant Sona to Armenia, and went to several other locations. At first, I was just enjoying the segment, until I saw the episode where he visited Mexico with Jorge Ramos.
There’s a particular scene that struck a chord with me, and I’d like to share it here. “I’ve been to Cuba, I’ve been to South Korea, I’ve been to Armernia. The solution to a lot of our problems is to go and meet people and to talk to them. And the type of comedy I do, I like to be the joke. I don’t go to a country to laugh at them, I want them to laugh at me.”
Jorge Ramos asked him a leading question about Donald Trump, and Conan continued, “There are many people who voted for [Trump] for economic reasons. To me, it’s sad that I can’t travel from Los Angeles to Mexico City and talk to people and not have it be overtly political. Yes, Trump comes up. But I’m also trying to do a lot of comedy that has nothing to do with politics, that’s just about the people and the culture. And I do not want it to be if you love Trump, then you’re going to hate this show, because I’m tired of that. I’m tired of the dichotomy in the United States that two ideas can’t coexist at the same time.”
I’m tired of it, too, Conan. The reason I bring this up, is that this segment, and now, I’ve discovered, the whole philosophical motivation behind the segment, resonates with something I’ve thought about for a long, long time.