I guess these differences could be summed up by concluding that life in Ghana tends to be more challenging and engaging. While working on my history of the U.S. family I was struck by how Americans had gradually drifted away from societies and cultures rooted in an ethos of obligation toward a way of looking at and living in the world characterized by fealty to an Imperial Self. As it has become more and more easy to live without having to depend on others for our survival, we have become more sensitive to individual rights and privacy but also more lonely, defensive, and depressed--"awash in weapons and grievances," as a New York Times reader aptly observes.
So each time I return home, I find myself feeling less at home. I'm sure part of this is the somewhat artificial nature of my weeks in Ghana, which are full of meetings with astonishing people whose dedication to serving others delivers repeated shots of adrenaline and inspiration. But it also has to do with living in a place where the great majority of people are both struggling and happy--more or less the opposite of life in America, where everyone seems to feel entitled and disappointed. In Ghana most people accept that life is difficult AND believe that we shall do well if we help each other.
That realization--life is difficult but, if we help each other, also joyful--sums up my own debt to Ghana, and what keeps me going back for more "exchanges for transformation," as the slogan of Yo Ghana! puts it.