Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Remembered

Remembering those we've lost is always a quiet, sad affair. On Saturday, I was at the Newseum and many of the exhibits noted the loss of lives in and around media, but there is a special exhibit reserved for such recognition. That is disquieting enough, but what was even more disturbing was the huge open space in the wall below the listed names, clearly for names to come. Obviously, this is reasonable. It is ridiculous to assume that no more human life will be lost in the pursuit of open communication, but is it not equally ridiculous to essentially accept it. Shouldn't it be an atrocity every single time a human life? Apparently not, apparently it is just another engraving on a wall to know. Maybe the argument is that it is much more cost-effective to build with an anticipation of future needs, this is an appropriate planning technique when building any structure for a growing capacity. But then I think all we're saying is that their life isn't worth having to make a new wall, and every life, every single life, is worth more than any damn wall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good Things Don't End Unless They End Badly

The wise words of Ben, the runner up on the Bachelorette after his proposal was turned down on national television. At first I thought this assessment seemed rather stupid, but the more I consider it, the truer it becomes. If things are good they don't end and consequently any ending that did occur would be the decision of one party within the good thing, making it bad for all other involved parties and then, by association, bad for the whole. You may say that sometimes good things end amicably or on an otherwise positive note, but I would argue that this only occurs when said good thing is ending as a way to create an opportunity for a thing that is even better. However, then I got to thinking that, in the event that something is ending badly, perhaps then we know that it was, at some time, a good thing for at least some of the parties involved. Because if it wasn't good for anyone, no one would be around to make its end bad. Even if this isn't a particularly scrutable theory, I like it, because it gives me a little faith that some of things that have ended rather poorly in my life have at least been measurably good in some manner. It makes me happier to think that life and people may, in the end, tend toward good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not Ready to Make Nice

So, remember that controversy with the Dixie Chicks a few years ago when one member said something about not all Americans being pro-Iraq War or pro-Bush. Most radio stations stopped playing any of their music and they received hate mail from people all over the country. Then they wrote the song "Not Ready to Make Nice" in response to being told they needed to just smooth over the whole situation. Anyway, there is a line in that song that goes "it's a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger." I reminded me of a class I was sitting in yesterday when a girl said that she doesn't understand why we afford constitutional rights to suspected terrorists. Her argument was that they clearly don't respect our constitution and therefore shouldn't be afforded its protections. Um, maybe because we don't want to be a crazy totalitarian regime? Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but seriously. If we, as a society if not as individuals, espouse the ideals of treating everyone with respect and equity, why would we not uphold those values? Especially if we expect to be respected within the international community, we have to engage in our dealings fairly. But beyond that, it concerns me that anyone would be confused about what is right. Or maybe that isn't the issue, maybe people just don't feel innately obligated to do what they think is right. Then again that concerns me even more.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Out of Africa

In fifth grade, I got really interested in this country in Africa that I'd never heard of before, The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I don't know how I happened upon it, but I started doing research on it and brought two friends on board. We eventually told one of our teachers what we were up to and, low and behold, she used to teach karate at a studio where one of the other instructors was from DRC. We quickly met Puma (not his real name, but no one can pronounce what it actually is) and became very involved with his organization, Able and Willing International Education Foundation (seriously, a great organization, I encourage you to check it out). Able and Willing builds schools around Puma's region because the school in the city are too far away for young kids to get to and usually too expensive for their parents to enroll them. Puma's school is open to everyone, very cheap, and provides scholarships. In fact, Able and Willing just opened a second school and got them internet connected. Anyway, after volunteering at events for the organization for a while, PUma invited Emily, Hanne, Ms. Venus, and I to cone work building one of the schools one summer. Now, we were sixth graders and didn't really think about what this would involve or the dangers we should be aware of. We started fleshing out plans, that we would travel only with a large group of adult and mainly male members of Able and Willing, that Ms. Venus would accompany us and we would always stick together, that I would eat pretty much nothing but tuna (DRC food involves peanuts or peanut butter in about 80 percent of the dishes and I'm allergic to nuts and peanuts), that we would fly in and stay for between two weeks and a month, that we would stay near the capital (where there is less violence than more rural areas), and that we would begin to learn French (their colonized language). Ms. Venus started teaching us French and we continued to make plans and learn more about the country. Turns out, the country got more violent and less safe for three pre-teen girls and we couldn't go, but it was my first taste of Africa. I have no African heritage, in fact I'm pretty hardcore Scottish, but I am in love with Africa. Our romance is a song with many harmonies. The scenery is one, and perhaps the loudest is my grand notion that it is a place where I could make a difference. But the harmonies are only gentle support to an ever-beating melody. Africa's melody is its spirit. It is hard to describe, but you can glimpse it between smiling women in bright headdresses, running children, and loud, definitive music. Africa is not quiet, because even when it sleeps the spirit whispers. It is a song of passion and heartbreak and togetherness. For an assignment in my Visual Literacy class we have to pick the best scene ever in a movie. I chose The Last King of Scotland. It embodies the power of Africa, and also its sorrow. Watching it, I fell in love again and I hear the song echoing in my head, calling me to a place which is neither my homeland or heartland, and yet feels like both home and heart.

Monday, September 5, 2011


It's the first weekend after classes have started and boy, what an adventure. Mostly, I babysit drunk people. And that sounds pretty bad, but they're generally really amusing, for example one guy always wants to cuddle and one girl spent all of Friday night trying to take her shirt off because, she argued, that she would look cuter topless than the boys. That is true, and was our justification for making her keep it on. She also really wanted to play with scissors, which we deemed dangerous. I've gone to bed at about five in the morning the last few nights due to the resulting drama, but that's ok because I DIDN'T HAVE ANY HOMEWORK. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I came to college for this. So we played board games and watched movies and drank hot cocoa and Jon (different Jon for those who keep up with this blog, a new one who is a good friend at AU) made shrimp risotto for us. It was delicious. Now I'm hanging out in my room with Hope, who just got moved into her new apartment in DC. Hopefully next week involves less drama, it may even involve a date with a cute Indian boy, or maybe just helping my friends stalker make cupcakes for her, you never know.