LOUIS ABELMAN

Salama Tu, the world doesn’t end

with 3 comments

When I decided to come here, my reasons weren’t all very sound, and some were a little ridiculous. One was that I felt that I was living in an envelope of privilege—a city, a social world, a job—that was somehow hiding the true face of the world from me, a truth that I knew existed through reading. The envelope I was in, I felt, was making me sluggish and would not allow me to become what I was fated to become, whatever it was.

Nothing I have seen or done so far, though wildly outside my personal experience, has sparked the alchemy that I’d hoped for— of course, what I’d hoped for was silly and impossible. There is, finally, no escape from the thingness of things, or the drowsiness that grips me. It’s called the actual real world, and it’s here to stay.

Ahem. I think I’m trying to say something about the weird existential experience of watching the election on a glitchy satellite receiver transmitting CNN in a palette of static and blue, in a community of evangelical Christians (rightly, in truth) impressed by the Bush administration’s diplomatic ejection of foreign armies from their territory. The world is firmly opposed to Bush, but I’ve managed to land in one isolated corner where people support the president re-elect for reasons I can relate to, or at least forgive. I can’t tell if this helps or hurts my feelings of dread after the fall of Ohio.

The world is now in the hands of God-People, as I have started thinking of them. I think of them with weariness, fear, and a little bit of awe. I know that faith is a force that can propel sustained and diligent action. I know it is something I lack, and sometimes feel I need, though don’t regret lacking. There are many reasons to want to reject faith as a basis for decision-making, but there is no reasoning with the faithful that now rule over us, because by definition they believe, and they are many. The obviousness of that came to me in the middle of a church service in Goma, with the preacher howling praise and the congregation echoing him with stuttering phrases, yelps, and moans, the whole thing finally ending in a spontaneous hymn for pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by.

But the hymn was very beautiful…

forgive me this weighty blah blah.

Written by louis

November 4th, 2004 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Blog

3 Responses to 'Salama Tu, the world doesn’t end'

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  1. louisdude.

    (you know i’m a sucker for the weighty blah blah…)

    an interesting dilemma, this search for worldly experience. i think that you find yourself on the other side of the globe for similar reasons that i find myself teaching in the “inner city.” in the end, though, i think our intentions lean on a set of sound values, and what little faith i have lies in that belief, that some sort of internal compass will point me more or less towards positive directions. there will be some serious meandering, but more or less. the other side of it is that we have to do something with our time on this planet…

    everything when we were growing up was in preparation for the ‘real world.’ i even find myself saying it to my kids. but shit’s pretty real no matter where you find yourself: africa, nyc, boston, some swank ivy league school, wherever. there’s truth all over the place.

    doo doo doo.

    things stateside are somber, at least in the bastion of sanity that is the Northeast. there’s something about being the underdog that strengthens resolve and that rallies people. although i don’t have much faith in the idealists pulling it together anytime soon. too much time spent teaching empirical inquiry to teenagers who would rather watch mtv i think.

    i’m enjoying reading of your adventures. big ups to bj. much love.
    -taus

    Mr. Tee

    5 Nov 04 at 04:42

  2. Louis, you have to give it a minute no? If it’s alchemy it won’t be complete until you’re back, wherever back is (one humble opinion is that it shouldn’t be New York maybe). I happened to be reading a biography of Jesse Jackson last week, a religious politician if there ever was one, a person who actually went to Iraq and spoke with Saddam during the hostage situation in 1990. It sucks that one religious man can see war as “an intellectual and moral failure” and another as a mandate for irresponsibility. I’ve been trying to reconcile my new home in the South and how much I like it here with its negative face of God-driven (drivel) politics. Viva apostasy is all I have to say.

    embot

    8 Nov 04 at 23:25

  3. Quite an interesting read for me, as I am the Congolese, coming to the US for an other-worldly experience… it’s a bit different, believe me. I agree with Emily, you need to give it a bit of time. You will realize the effects much later, when you start to root for African teams in the World Cup, or when you start feeling like people in the US just have no clue! 😉 Wait, you’ll see

    TheMalau

    14 Feb 05 at 09:22

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