My sophomore year in high school was eventful. Among the significant events was becoming entwined with a fundamentalist, tongue-speaking, Christian cult. I suppose I was a pretty typical teenager, although all my life people have thought me rather strange and that was the certainly the case then. I imagined that my involvement in with the Lamb's Chapel as counter-cultural, nowadays fundamentalism seems the main current and I'm once again out of the mainstream.
Another event was failing English. The silver lining in that was having to go to summer school and having the benefit of a gifted and caring teacher who managed to give me the tools for surving the rest of my high school career.
I seemed particularly peculiar to Ms. Lawrence, my tenth-grade English teacher. It didn't help matters that the class was right after lunch which most days consisted of a carton of chocolate milk and a bag of barbecued potato chips. Ten minutes in the warm windowless room where the classes were conducted, I'd inevitably crash and nod into slumber. To combat this effect and because I was an earnest lad, I sat in a desk in the front row right in front of the lecturn which Ms. Lawrence would rock gently back and forth as she spoke.
Once I had a falling-dream and lept to my feet in front of the whole class, of course standing up right in front of Ms. Lawrence. She was unamuzed, but the rest of the class found it hilarious. But once, seemingly without warning, Ms. Lawrence burst into laughter and in the midst of paroxysm, "You remind me of the abscent-minded professor" she gasped.
I never had much money as a kid, but had purchased a book of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko in translation. "Where did you get this?" she demanded to know and conviscated the book without further comment.
The movie Doctor Zhivago had come out years before, but it seems that I remember seeing it about this time and it was certainly a movie that my parents talked about. The War in Vietnam was still going heavy witht he first rounds of "Vietnamization" occuring early in Nixon's first term. A young collegue of my mother's had sent me a batch of books to read too, among them A Coney Island of the Mind.
Hot Rats was a popular album. I was most curious about it because there was a music group at the time called Hot Nuts. These records were sometimes brought out at parties and had bawdy lyrics. "Blue" records were sold differently than others, a kid could look but not touch as they were held in plastic sleaves well out of reach. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention Freak Out! fell neatly into the category of "Blue" and so "Suzy, Suzy Creamcheese" echos in my mind with the passion of forbiden pleasures. Later that year I gave away my puny record collection and abandoned popular music for several years. Again there was a silver lining: this decision expanded my musical tastes.
The point of all of this is that I don't "get it" and as far as I can remember never have.
I find reading blogs relating to Africa very informative and a pleasure. I don't really imagine that I have much to add to the conversation these blogs provoke, yet I 'm very eager to be in on it.
Last night I stopped by freind's house for wonderful free-ranging conversation. The subject of Nathan and his computer came up. I explained that electric loadshedding had limited the amount of time he could use it. And I went on to say that the effects of the drought extended much more widely than the Horn of Africa. "Drought, what drought?" my friend asked. The questioned stunned me, surely they'd seen news about the drought?
It's very strange, that such a monumental event is all but hidden here in the U.S. Of course, we're not certain at all that global climate change is real here, but we're quite certain that any attempt to mitigate the consequences will be bad for the economy. So we collude together to cover our ears and sing, "la la la la la, I can't hear you" whenever we anticipate the subject coming up. Or we put on our rose-colored glasses--I'm such a space cadet, I don't even know that I own a pair and still people keep telling me to take my rose-colored glasses off. The picture of old G.W. wearing glasses comes from these interesting pages of altered currency.
I can't imagine how we're so willfully blind. This post at Keguro's wonderful blog Gukira captures our hubris well and makes me feel ashamed. And if you take the time to click on that link, be sure to click through to this post at tHiNkEr'srOoM too.
We in the West, and particularly here in the USA have no lock on the market of good ideas, yet we imagine we do. How can we? How do we? When even well-read and generally aware Americans have know idea that large swaths of Africa are suffering the effects of a great drought. This event is not the desert of the Sahara, but may be a harbinger of climate changes we're too quick to deny and ignore.
Take it from a fool who knows: our hubris is folly.