In the end, this will be a column about human nature and the way the world works.

It begins with me and my job.As a journalist, I spend hours trying to put myself in other people's shoes. It's the toughest thing I do.

When there's a human tragedy like an earthquake or a plane crash, I never have trouble knowing how I'd react in the situation. The problem is knowing the ins and outs of the people involved well enough so I can react as they do.

That said, I've been spending some time with the Hispanic community, trying to see America and Anglo-Americans through their eyes. I've reached this conclusion: Mexicans see Anglo-Americans much like Americans see the British - and vice versa.

I was in London last year. People there were wonderful to me. But I remember the properness, the stiffness, I saw in them. To my Wild Western eyes, their complexions seemed chalky, unhealthy. And the people had a hard time being spontaneous. They seemed suppressed. Taut.

On the other hand, I was told by a friend there that many British see Americans as broad-gestured, as uncomfortably expressive. We often come across as sentimental. Full of unsubtle national pride. We seem unsophisticated, somehow - even innocent.

We're like younger brothers and sisters out of control.

It dawned on me those same attitudes show up between Mexicans and Anglo-Americans. Many Mexican immigrants think we Anglos are pretty stuffy, pretty rigid. We don't touch. We don't cry much. We don't get syrupy in our speeches.

On the other hand, Anglos often see Mexicans as "overly expressive," as "sentimental," "broad gestured" and "unrestrained."

But the funny part is the telescope extends even further.

I was also in Guatemala a few years ago. And I found - to my amazement - that Guatemala is Mexico's "Mexico." Guatemalans feel patronized, put off and dominated by the "superior" Mexicans. Mexicans seem huffy and haughty to them.

Guatemalans call Mexico "The Colossus to the North." The very words Mexico uses for us. Mexicans claim America "stole" Texas; Guatemalans claim Mexico "stole" the state of Chiapas. Mexican products dominate the Guatemalan markets. Mexican wire services and writers fill their newspapers. When Mexico sneezes, Guatemalans catch the cold.

People from Guatemala sneak across the Mexican border to work as "illegal aliens" in Mexico. Mexican officials ship them home but, because wages are better in Mexico, they sneak back across the border - again and again.

Mexicans complain that the Guatemalans are "stealing jobs meant for our own people." Guatemalans complain that they are mistreated and abused by Mexico.

Mexico wishes Guatemala would just go away.

And the Guatemalans? They mistreat and lord it over the Indian tribes in the country. And the Indian tribes? They lord it over someone somewhere. Just as some countries even condescend to the very proper British.

Years ago my father told me about the years he ran the migrant worker crews on his family's farm in Hooper. He said the pecking order amazed him. Whites would work in the same fields with the Tongans, but not with the Mexicans and blacks. The Mexicans had their priorities. As did the blacks.

He said he had to be a better diplomat than Kissinger just to get the crops in. He had to schedule three different paydays each week because some groups refused to show up the same day as other groups.

And that experience, he said, taught him a lot about human nature. Just as my little forays into England and Guatemala opened my eyes. That need for dignity and some sense of superiority is universal.

Hemingway said his personal favorite among his stories was one about a prostitute lording it over another prostitute because a certain rich client had selected her. The truth was the man didn't care a whit for either of them.

Hemingway saw the pecking order. And he saw that fierce longing and quest for dignity in an undignified world. If Hemingway were alive today, he'd likely be writing the same stories he wrote in 1920.

The story will still be out there to be written 2020.