To be accurate, there was a place-picker, Georgian psychiatrist Rezo Korinteli, a full Professor at Grigol Robakidze University in Georgia who had traveled to Austin, TX, to give a talk at a Group Psychotherapy conference to which I had come from Arizona.
It's a good thing that sometimes if an event can alert you to your phenomenal ignorance, because meeting Rezo certainly did have that effect. Since then, I can report that his writings about Georgia and its people have been a genuine awakening for me, inspiring me to want to learn how to look for consciousness-raising opportunities that may help me learn how to better apprehend new encounters.
[WEE BIT OF HISTORY SIDEBAR]: I did know that prior to the fall of the USSR, Georgia had been a Central Asian Soviet Republic, notably the birthplace of Stalin. Thanks to Rezo, an intuitive therapist with historical insight, I had a flash of observational insight, seeing a relational connection between the USA's once-upon-a-time unholy competitive alliance with the Soviets and the present one between the two countries.
I had then ask: When has Greed been a good bedfellow? What sort of companion is it?
Beware the day avowed great enemies swear to become friends. What arises will occupy the slack space in everyone's head if the world is lucky. If you're curious about this, I refer you to an academic article by Rezo titled "On the Psycho-Social Conditions of Psychotherapy in post-Soviet Georgia."
Given the evidence of similarities between two cultures that had sworn themselves to guard their differences eternally no matter the consequences, even unto death, the academic leap into similarities between Georgia and the USA got me thinking about the aggravated nasty conduct behaviors some people exhibit when they are phobic about people they don't know.
You see a lot of this, these days, as a type of 'cultural oppositional disorder.' The predominant manifesting symptom is described in the DSM. It's what is demonstrated by you if you are someone who will lash out at people if/whenever they are different from you.
This grabbed me fierce in view of witnessing the USA's conduct, the current chapter in its lumbering bloody story of what it means to be under the influence of a racist history. Not fun to watch, even from a distance.
But horribly distorted as that image is, looking at it through the lens of Georgian history made it possible to imagine that it will somehow survive despite itself, maybe even transform its stunningly bizarre leaders into people who can/will dare to seek out, recognize and respect the common humanity of all human beings.
Live in hope, one day at a time.