It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Monday, March 7, 2016

Recent Reading

One Plus One
by JoJo Moyes

It was a fun read that made you root for the flawed main characters. I was reading at the same time that I am reading The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson which made it even more enjoyable. His (real) trips and their (fictional) trips sometimes ended up in same place! It made a fictional story taking place in Great Britain feel a lot more real to this American.

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain.

by Bill Bryson

      One of the most enjoyable books that I have read in a long time. If you enjoy travel, humor, and are willing to take an honest look at culture (including your own) you can enjoy this book. The author has somehow perfectly married his two cultures: American and English. You will love his tongue-in-cheek comments about both. Having never studied English geography I had to flip often to the map in the front of this book. It was the most fun history and geography lesson I have ever had!

That is the greatest thing about being a foreigner - that you get to spend your life with a whole new set of cultural attachments in addition to the ones you inherited at birth. Anyone who has a second country is greatly favored, in my view....

It occurred tome as I stood there that this was one of the things that I really, really like about Britain: it is unknowable. There is so much to it - more than any person can ever see or figure out or begin to know. There is so much stuff that no one can definitively say how much there actually is. Isn't that splendid? 

My American Journey 
By Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico

This book was published over 20 years ago which makes it very much like watching a West Wing Re-Run or a Newsroom Episode on Amazon Prime: you can see the world with 20/20 hindsight. For me that made the last third of this book which was about Operation Desert Storm even more interesting. Maybe comparing it to two televisions shows isn't right. It is more of a mix of My Beloved by Sonia Sotomayor and It Doesn't Take a Her by H. Norman Schwarzkopf (Yes, I have read them both because I'm a dork.) 

The truth is that Colin Powell has led a fascinating life: he served post WWII in Germany, in Vietnam, Korea, and through Desert Storm. His long-range view of the military was helpful for a civilian like me. I love to read how highly-successful, service-orientated people were raised (and how they raised their families). There was much that I wanted to discuss in this book including his inter-cultural marriage (yes, he and his wife are both Black but most definitely were from different cultures), his thoughts on serving others, education, and race.

I have always liked the maxim that there is no end to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. 

...I began developing another rule: don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgement. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.

Nevertheless, we had made it this far up the ladder precisely because we had the ability to shift back into the white-dominated world on Monday morning. Black could hang around with the brothers in their free time, and no one gave it any more thought than the fact that West Pointers, tankers, or engineers went off by themselves. That was exactly the kind of integration we had been fighting for, to be permitted our blackness and also to be able to make it in a mostly white world. 

At some point, before we can have every possibly fact in hand, we have to decide. The key is not to make quick decisions, but to make timely decisions. 

My message to young African-Americans is to learn to live where you are not where you might have been born three centuries ago. The cultural gap is too wide, the time past too long gone...The corollary is equally true. Young whites will not be living in an all-white world. They must be taught to appreciate the struggle of minorities to achieve their birthright. 

What have you been reading recently? 

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