Craig Stevenson, 62, from the United States, lives and works in Denpasar

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
We have no right to judge other people’s cultures until we know them well. We often make judgments based on our experience without taking the time to recognize that other individuals and countries have very different histories.

What’s most important?
Enjoying the small things on a day-to-day basis and avoiding conflicts. The small things add up to contentment and the conflicts detract from the positive as well as demean those involved.

What advice would you give the younger generations?
Live your life for yourself, not for others. Society, friends, relatives and even strangers try to control your life from beginning to end. The only thing that matters is what you think and do. Always remember one word “freedom.”

Are you worried about dying?
I’m not worried about dying, but I’m angry about having to leave this wonderful world.

What was the happiest time of your life?
Thirteen years spent in Spain with a person I was very much in love with.

And the worst?

I have not had bad times, really. I consider myself fortunate to have avoided major trauma in my life. There were single incidents or experiences, which are were very unpleasant, but I would not call them “bad times.”

What’s humanity all about?
There is no answer to this in general. It’s about what each individual decides to make of him/herself and in the process the answer will come. It’s for the individual to decide, not others.

Why are there so many conflicts in the world?
The aggressive and acquisitive aspects of human nature are integral to who we are and although they can result in very negative circumstances, without them we would all still be living in caves. We just need to control the conflicts, beginning with everyone refusing to kill others – particularly strangers from another country (war).

Is a peaceful world possible?
No. We can only work toward creating peace in our own immediate environment. There will always be violence. It’s human nature.

How old do you feel?
I feel about 35.

Is one lifetime enough?
Definitely not. I would like to have at least six or seven.

How has Bali changed?
Since when? The obvious answer is that it has entered the modern world since the last century. Thankfully, the culture is strong enough to assimilate these influences and for the most part not allow them to corrupt what is a valuable and worthwhile set of values and traditions.

Has tourism been good for Bali?
Take away all tourism and what do you have? A traditional, agrarian society where people cannot enjoy the benefit of modern life such as education and decent medical care. Tourism also permits Bali to teach something to the rest of the world.

What’s the major difference between the East and the West?
The attitude toward the individual in society. The West encourages people to be themselves. The East encourages them to be part of a larger group.

Have you ever doubted your religion?
No, never. I don’t have one.

I have studied all the major religions of the world, including philosophies from the West and East. Although most of them have worthwhile and valid points, none of them can truly tell me who I am and how to be. Each person must decide this for themselves. This is the purpose of life and it is a serious responsibility. To give that responsibility to others is too easy.

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