Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Last Sunday we had the pleasure of having dinner with our friend, Vaughn's, parents, Jean and Clive. They hail from South Africa and every year or two they spend about 6 weeks in "The States." Jean and Clive have lived in South Africa their entire lives and despite the fact that all three of Jean's sons and Clive's daughter are now scattered throughout the world, S. Africa is home. I posed the very open-ended question to Clive, "so how are things in S. Africa these days?" I wasn't really groping for any particular answer or area to discuss, just tossing out a basic conversation starter. I was honored with a nice little lesson in the current state of the S. African economy. I suppose if I actually opened the Economist that we subscribe to I would have been able to interject interesting questions or comments, but instead I just sat back and listened.

Things are good in S. Africa right now, but not great. They have experienced positive economic growth for the past two years, primarily due to a rising black middle class who want to buy clothes and cars and houses and education and other assorted things the middle class want. What struck me was the eagerness with which Clive related these observations and the excitement he has over the successes of the blacks in S. Africa. Mind you, there are 22 blacks in S. Africa for every white person. Whereas in the U.S. I think there are nine whites for every one black person. Now, we didn't get into a discussion of race relations - it was loud, the evening was nearing the end, my son was fussy - but Clive, and all of his pals, are celebrating, encouraging, and participating in moving these previously oppressed people into a middle class status...or beyond. They fully appreciate how the success of one means a success for all. They are going to schools and classrooms and playing Scrabble with youth to help them learn vocabulary words, to spark an interest in learning, to engage the future leaders of their country.

Why do we have such a hard time seeing the benefits of such collaboration in this country?


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