I recently posted this piece to my new school's "book forum," so I thought I'd share...
As a young boy, Deng’s father tells him a story, cautioning him against choosing “the What” — or the mystery choice — and instead choosing the known. Deng, however, does not always have the luxury of that choice. For this reason, his story is an important one as we contemplate what it means to live in a globalized world, a world in which we are all connected in what are often far from mutually equitable ways. The novel raises questions about the boundaries and benefits of nation-states, the impact of imperialism in Africa, and the roles and responsibilities of the developed world and of individual citizens in reaching out to our human family around the world. I would have to say that I found some of the most engaging parts of the novel to be the ones in which Deng encounters life in a so-called “First World” country for the first time in his life. His confusion, horror, and wonder in response to life in the US can teach us a great deal about our own society and its social issues. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants to be both entertained and educated or who is looking for a way to gain a better understanding of the myriad ways there are to experience both the best and the worst of our globalized world.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
In honor of Labor Day and "Back to School" workdays ahead, I'm posting this poem by Marge Piercy. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
To Be Of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Posted by Ms. F at 5:45 AM