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Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Reflection sounds like racism.

Given that I'm living in the US now, I'm wont to reflect on the cultural mass I find myself in. To be sure, everyone i've met and have made friends with are friendly, real and welcoming - or, why would I? - but, I find myself wanting to create patterns and standards to describe the state of the American People. I wonder a lot about why they are the way they are (and not like me).

For example, I watched V for Vendetta last Saturday night, and found myself a little unsettled by the audience's uncomfortable laughter at some key points in the film. The plot is simply a story of liberation from a paranoid political maniac, revolving around the eloquent protagonist's need for vengeance. Slightly different from the current American political climate, but allegorical nonetheless.

With such memorable lines as "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.", I perceived the audience swelled with either discomfort or Hurrah! in their seats at the various points of either subjugation or systemic brutal violence against a tangled web of oppressors. Given that Oakland's Grand Lake Theatre appears to be a well-fortified position of Democratic consciousness, I figured that the crowd would certainly be up for a little Bush-bashing. One of my companions left the film thinking What can I do? (Learn, volunteer, canvas, write, donate, vote... I suggested. Just because GWB can't get in again doesn't mean you necessarily want another Republican to win.)

The trouble is, when I raise my assorted reflections amongst my (lovely) American friends, I'm sure I come across as judgemental. Having had a few libation-fuelled conversations in Austin recently where some companions were happy to engage with thoughts on The Problem, it seems like there is interest, but...

I might say this at least: there are lots of people here who want things to be different. Observations from outside are often useful to produce changes, when you're blinkered from within, but require some sensitivity when painting with the same tarred brush.

(I recall an excellent book called Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture, which I whole-heartedly encourage lots of them to read.)

Now? I ramble... So now? I stop.
Posted at 4:50 am

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