Friday, February 27, 2015
On Adventurism and Fighting
We've been trying something new at work -- extended hours in the library during the week. This means a minor adjustment in my schedule, whereby I leave work at 5:45 p.m. instead of 5:15 p.m. (I go in half an hour later in the morning to compensate.) Not a huge deal, and we're only doing it through March 10, when the sports tournaments begin.
Yesterday and today, however, we have no students because of parent/teacher conferences -- the result being that I keep normal hours. The result of that being that I got home last night while it was still daylight, which hasn't happened in ages!
I've been working on a couple of minor projects in the library, but I must admit my days are not easily filled when there are no kids borrowing materials. I found myself reading The New Yorker yesterday. Did any of you see the article about the rootless, troubled guy from the United States who went to Syria to fight against the government? He wasn't Syrian or Arab or devoutly Muslim -- he converted but wasn't particularly observant -- and he seemed to have vague ideas about what he wanted to achieve. It seemed he mostly wanted a purpose, an adventure.
It's mind-boggling, this urge to set off across the planet to join a conflict that could potentially mean death. I just don't get it -- that soldiering instinct, that passion for the fight. Remember the opening scene of "Gone With the Wind," when Scarlett O'Hara is sitting on her front porch with the Tarleton twins and they're going on and on about how eager they are to fight and whoop the Yankees? Even as a kid, I thought they were crazy. At least in their case you could argue that they didn't know what hell they were getting into. But this guy who went to Syria -- he knew. We see today's conflicts all around the world in full color and practically in real time.
It's like the first of the two Japanese guys who were taken hostage and recently killed by Isis. He was described as an "adventurer." What?!
Of course, sometimes there's mental illness that contributes to these decisions. A desire to escape from substance abuse. Or maybe they were there for other purposes, not publicly disclosed. But still -- I don't get the allure, the glamor, of fighting, particularly when the fighter has no real idealogical commitment to the cause.
And on a somewhat related note, did you see the newest pieces by Banksy, in Gaza? I love the kitten playing with the tangled ball of rebar.
Olga doesn't understand fighting either. Apparently this week her dog-walker was jumped by a trio of guys in Hampstead Heath. He was walking several dogs at the time and wasn't carrying anything valuable, and the attackers punched him and tussled with him before running off. I don't know all the details -- Dave talked to the dog-walker, not me -- but the salient point is that the dogs, including Olga, did nothing.
It's always been my suspicion that when it came down to it, Olga wouldn't be much of a fighter.
(Photos: Top, shadows on the back porch of our family home in Florida. Middle, the hyacinth that I bought Dave for Valentine's Day, which has bloomed and saturated our flat with its sweet scent. Bottom, Olga in bed last night.)