Friday, April 01, 2005

Learning something new

We chat about American imperialism. No. She chats about American imperialism. I ask her if she sees it coming to an end. It will, she says. Then, immediately, less sure, she adds that it will eventually end. Somewhere I think this is a useless conversation. Not because we know more than each other or because there are fixed notions of what is right and wrong, but because I'm not setting out to change a global political landscape. I can't be concerned with the United States when things in India don't seem to be right. Who cares about Nike or sweatshops right now when we've got a caste that believes in violence and is in power in at least two states?

We continue talking, two people trying to find common ground in a dangerously fluid landscape. When we disagree, we remain mostly silent, choosing to say 'hmmm'. We find that we agree on little about the state of the world. One says it's horrible, one says it's fine. Both discover something new about each other. We're not sure we like it. So we hang up quickly. She has to study, I have to write. We'll talk later, when our leanings are grudgingly accepted. Then we will talk with more freedom and, with respect, will lay our friendship to one side and then we will fight it out.

1 comment:

Soundar said...

I had this conversation with an American colleague-a very nice man and one I count as a friend, as we travelled to Ayutthaya from Bangkok for a bit of sightseeing.

This was around when the New Hampshire primaries were on and we discussed the prospects of Dubya.

I would not have said this had he been one of those red neck caricature Yanks, but as I hold him in esteem as a liberal thinker I said

'Given that the New Hampshire primaries are such an important harbinger of who will eventually win, there needs to be an amount of electoral college votes for the world to have its say as well'

'Why do you say that?'

'Well, if the USA sees fit to enforce its views on the world, through force if need be, then the world also needs to have a say in who rules the USA'

Nice man as he was, he was not particularly happy!