The Eye of the Paradox
I was born in the Azores Islands -- a colony of Portugal. At age 2, I came to Southern California with my mother. My father came ahead, and took a dairy cow milker job to earn enough money to bring wife and child over to the States. My first home was on a dairy farm in an area of Los Angeles County once known as "Dairy Valley." Now, a huge shopping mall sits where I lived in the community of Cerritos. The open fields have turned to solid tracts of houses.

All my life I have felt like a minorities' minority. I grew up in a world that was mixture of Portuguese, Mexican and Dutch people. The first grade stunned me with a world of English-speaking people. The very first word that I learned in English was "stupid." Young children don't always understand why you don't understand them.

Around the age of eight, my parents considered moving back to the Azores. I wondered: Why should "I"-- this particular self -- be in this place rather than somewhere else? So began my "philosophical quest." This, I am sure, is what made me different from the other children: that I would even think such a question. That I would take such questions seriously. I tried to like baseball and football like the other little boys, but this appetite for reality became more intense and refused to go away.

Being from the Azores Islands with a strange name like "Americo Azevedo" also helped make me feel different.

Now, I read everywhere about the changing demographic content of the United States population, especially California. Being a white, Anglo-Saxon, male, Protestant is fast becoming the real minority. This is happening all over the world as people migrate from one zone to another attempting to get away from some very difficult situations.

History is about one group of people moving into another place. No one group, or life form was always in the same place forever. The tribes of very early Europe displaced one another. When I studied Latin I learned that Julius Caesar pushed a warring tribe into the area now known as Switzerland. Those people settled down and to this day have been peaceful.

What is mine, what is yours? "I had it first!" One of the first rules I learned in the sandbox. I was the little boy who wondered where "it" came from in the first place. It seemed that everything came from something else. Everyone who was here came from somewhere else. There is no absolute reason why anyone is "here" rather than "somewhere else." I certainly could not find any consummate cause for being here. It is just what happened; with a lot of help from my parents, of course.

One thing, I learned early is that real philosophers have a very difficult time being self-righteous or certain about anything. Except being open minded!

Everything is subject to doubt and question. A friend pointed out that a world populated by philosophers would not get things done as quickly as a world dominated by "men of action." This may seem like a problem. Then, again, he thought, "This may keep us from rushing ahead to get all kinds of stupid things done too quickly." A lot of freeways, bridges, buildings, consumer products, and credit cards may have never ever happened.

We are all strangers in a strange land. It takes a heap of ego to forget this, so that we can protect ourselves from each other. We often forget our dependence on each other.

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