I'm Sardonically Happy!
11 October 2003
First, I feel like I ought to start this e-mail with
a disclaimer. I’ve gotten
feedback from my loyal readers that a few of you are concerned about the
“cynical and bitter” tone of my
letters, and have consequently made the deduction that I am not quite happy
I need to explain myself.
First of all, I am quite happy here.
In fact, the more absurd and ridiculous things are, the happier I am.
But I’ll admit, I can get stressed out here.
Sometimes there will be some little incident, usually involving 9A, and
I’ll come home saying, “I hate everyone,” flop on the couch in a fetal
become quite comatose. Most
volunteers deal with these moods by quaffing large quantities of low-quality
alcohol. Unfortunately, I don’t like alcohol, but I do like words a
lot. I think some famous satirist
said something to the effect that “satire is the weapon of the powerless
against the powerful.” So that
would apply to me in the sense that I am powerless to change Namibia, or the
world for that matter, so I’ve just got to make fun of it.
And I do this with all due respect.
So yes, I’m cynical, but not really bitter.
But I was cynical even in the States, and I don’t see why this is
necessarily a bad thing or an indication of unhappiness.
Besides, I prefer to think of myself as sardonic: “Disdainfully or
ironically humorous; scornful and mocking.”
Finally, if you do think I am cynical, let’s at least give it a
euphemism so I don’t feel bad about myself, something like “optimistically
challenged” or “skeptically inclined.”
To further prove my state of happiness, let me say
that I am truly happy with my Palaver Club.
We had our first meeting Friday night and the learners seem genuinely
interested in my wealth of useless knowledge and ideas.
John, who is perhaps the impetus for my club, commented at the end of the
meeting, “But Miss, how do you have such a broad general knowledge about
everything? You teach us about
Abraham Lincoln, and you can do math, you know about god, you were talking about
geology, psychology, philosophy and now anthropology…”
You see, most teachers here are educated of course, but it is only in
their particular subject, and so you could say they have no broad general
knowledge. I tried to explain to
John about how in American universities, you can learn many, many different
subjects in addition to your main one. If
nothing else, this club should feed my ego since I’ve got these kids convinced
I’m some sort of genius (relatively). Anyway,
my intent with the club is to “corrupt the youth” in the manner of Socrates
by encouraging them to ask questions and think about things—ie, develop
critical thinking skills in lieu of memorization and conformity.
The topic they chose for next week is, “Why is life like this?”
I think we’re off to a good start.