Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Musings on Progress

Here’s a passage from an article by humanitarian aid worker and author Eric Greitens, mostly about Rwanda, in the latest issue of the Phi Beta Kappa KEY REPORTER:

“In the refugee camps, I met a 16-year-old who was the leader of a group of boys. I asked him to tell me about the other boys in his group. He pointed, and an aid worker translated: ‘This one,’ he said, ‘is very powerful with making fire and cooking. This one is very powerful with the soldiers from Zaire; they like him. This one is very powerful with singing.’ And as he went around the group, he described each boy as powerful in some way.”

I like the metaphor of “powerful” here, the message that any personal quality or strength can embody “power.” It doesn’t have to mean physical force. The passage reminds me of the Vulcan principle of IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

Also, reverting to the subject of country songs, here’s one I really like, “Welcome to the Future” by Brad Paisley:

Welcome to the Future

That line incomprehensibly labeled “incomprehensible,” by the way, is one of the best parts of the song. It’s clearly, “The world they saved has changed, you know.” Another site has it as, “Will they say it’s changed a note,” and yet another version is even sillier. (I wanted to copy and paste the verse to correct the “incomprehensible” bit, but copying seems to be disabled on that page.)

One dazzling piece of cognitive dissonance, for me, is a query someone posted on a different site, one that answers questions about song lyrics. The poster actually did not understand the reference, “They burned a cross on his lawn for asking out the homecoming queen.” There is really hope for this country!

I’m much more in sympathy with this song than with other recent ones that wax nostalgic about the good old days. “I miss back then”? I wouldn’t go back to the 1950s for less than a million dollars with compound interest. Segregation, job listings divided by sex, women fired at the employer’s whim for getting pregnant, only three TV channels, no car seat belts, no ingredient and nutrition labels on food, no Internet banking or buying—heck, no Internet! THOSE good old days? One of those songs celebrates baloney sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, a combination that turned my stomach even when I was a kid in the fifties. Now our small city has dozens of ethnic restaurants, including at least four or five places that serve good sushi, a dish unknown in the U.S. outside Hawaii and California until a couple of decades ago. I love now! (Even if we never got flying cars, not that I’d want one; traffic is dangerous enough already. But I’m still waiting for my housekeeping robot.)

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

1 comment:

  1. Maragaret,

    I agree completely about the good ol' days. There are only a few things I miss about my childhood in the late 60's/early 70's but overall it wasn't as interesting as now.

    Lots of people seem to have the "grass is greener" syndrome.

    Not me.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!