Friday, June 22, 2007

To indeed be a god

NOW READING: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

"'We're out here to do justice and keep the peace. Them's my sentiments. India isn't a drawing-room.'
'Your sentiments are those of a god,' she said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.
Trying to recover his temper, he said, 'India likes gods.'
'And Englishmen like posing as gods.'"
--p. 51

Much as I ruminated today on my blog's "front page" I am struck by how we hardly act different at all from people 100 years ago.

The U.S. might have joined the English in posing as gods in various Asian countries, and insisting it's there in justice and peace. And this is still happening! Korea, anyone? Granted, I made two really good friends because of the U.S. army bases there. And there were a lot of bilingual street signs for which I was grateful. But come on. People would actually tell me with a straight face that the U.S. military is there to protect against "the threat from 'The North.'" Seriously. SERiously??

I didn't know why I felt drawn to read A Passage to India, but now I do. What a fantastic reflection on the expatriate experience. I'd like to think the job of an English teacher is far less offensive than that of a civil servant of the occupying colonial force. I'd sure like to.

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