Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cruelty in Zimbabwe

Gangs of violent thugs are rampaging in the cities and villages of Zimbabwe, in a frenzy of looting, burning, raping, and killing. All known or suspected opponents of Robert Mugabe's regime are in peril for their lives. It has come down to this awful place. There is no future and no hope. This site, the Zimbabwe Situation, summarizes all the terrible news.

The people of Zimbabwe, despite the direst provocation, show no sign of rising up in arms against the despot. Neighboring countries, especially South Africa, lack the determination to intervene. No one knows what will happen next -- if the destruction and violence will finally destroy every good thing in this once wonderful country. It's madness.

Why has Zimbabwe gone over the brink into insanity? Why does it happen there and not here? Are we lucky to be in America? Are we God's special friends? Are we doing something right? Because we have problems, but life is much better here than in Africa.

I attended the Zimbabwe Independence Day party in Seattle in April. This is an annual event and many immigrants from Zimbabwe come to have a good time and to celebrate their culture. This year, I saw many new faces -- new immigrants from Zimbabwe who were young, talented, and energetic. They had escaped a savage dictator. They were working and sending American dollars back to their hungry families. A slim hope of salvation rests in this exiled community, not just in Seattle, but in most big cities in the English-speaking world -- immigrants who are safe, for the time being, who will never return, or who hope against hope to return some day.
But how will Zimbabwe survive this calamity?

A CAR DEALER LAMENTS. If he makes half as much this year, he still won't be poor -- that's what I thought. But it was still an outstanding spectacle -- a car dealer, a well known man in this area, who said that his business is terrible. He's got a fleet of trucks and SUVs that he can't give away.

Car salesmen are the soul of the American economy -- they are the ultimate source of our national exuberance. They are the truest of true believers -- and the most cynical.
It doesn't make me happy to see them brought low.

GIVING AWAY HER SUV. A friend of mine had been driving an 8-year-old GMC Yukon -- it was a good vehicle, but a gas pig. So she replaced it with a Subaru Outback because of its good mileage.

Anyhow, she couldn't sell the old Yukon for peanuts, but decided to give it to one of her relatives. "I can always use it when I need to haul a big load," she said.

I was making fun of the philosopher's group in the last issue -- they do not actually get drunk at the LaConner Tavern, but there is a real group of men who meet on weekday mornings at the Next Chapter in LaConner and listen to taped lectures before discussing the works of Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and other great thinkers. It is a discussion that has been going on for more than a thousand years, and I have joined in.

DELIRIUM. People should understand, in my own defense, that I spend my working hours in the company of delirious people at the local hospital. "Daft" I call them, or "addled" -- there are lots of words for this, but delirium and dementia are medical terms that are well-defined.

The problem is that people with serious medical problems, such as a broken hip, or a urinary tract infection, can be so seriously impacted by the illness that they temporarily lose their marbles -- to use another common phrase. This delirium is a symptom of the underlying illness -- and my job is to stay with the patient and help them work through it.

This babbling of nonsense and fluttering of hands can be very difficult for loved ones to view. Imagine your parents or your spouse -- solid and sensible people -- only know they are howling at the moon from their hospital bed. So I counsel these people as well.

It can be a very hard job. And it's not really about skills so much as it's about attitude.
I have a very strong belief in my own sensibility and consciousness. I use that strength to project a return to reality upon the patient. I don't always succeed, but I never give up.

But, in order to keep myself in good shape for this job, I need to spend my off hours with clear-headed, healthy people -- like those morning philosophers I just told you about.


Anonymous said...

Same truck story everywhere. Try Googling "I can always use it when I need to haul a big load"

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