Monday, August 6, 2012
The sun sets. As time passes, you feel very hungry, but the few drinks you’ve had ease your hunger pains and numb your stomach. In fact, your entire body feels numb and you feel a bit lightheaded.
The bar fills with people that are drinking alcohol and dancing to the fantastic music. Nat has joined the dancers in an open area in the center of the bar.
Stranger: Is that your friend?
You turn and look at the man standing near your table.
Stranger: How do you know her?
Self: We are Peace Corps Volunteers.
Stranger: …Oh really?...she’s beautiful.
He walks around behind you and sits beside you at the table.
Stranger: Where are you from?
Stranger: She’s From America?
Stranger: And where are you from?
Self: I am also from America.
Stranger: Even you? You’re from America?
Stranger: Why are you here... in Botswana?
The Force: Remember your training.
Self: We are Peace Corps Volunteers. We are here to help combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country and to promote a better understanding between Americans and the countries in which we serve.
Stranger: I see…
Nat dances her way over to the table.
Nat: Who’s your friend?
Stranger: My name is Cuecue.
Cuecue extends his hand and Nat shakes it. Cuecue lets his hand linger and holds onto Nat’s hand for a few seconds longer. As she makes eye contact she smiles, winks and withdraws her hand.
Stranger: It’s nice to meet you.
Nat: It’s nice to meet you two.
Nat turns toward you. She smiles, winks and touches you on the shoulder with her fist.
Nat: I’m gonna go have some fun. You two should do the same.
She smiles at you again and walks toward the bar to buy another drink.
Cuecue: You are too arrogant. You are certainly going to have problems with safety here.
The Force: Something strange is happening.
Self: What do you mean? Where did this come from?
Cuecue: I don’t like you here. Westerners ruin Africa. You are only concerned for Africa when you want something. You come and take our diamonds or you want to have some image of being kind to boost your own ego and self-righteousness.
Cuecue: For example, your friend there, she will likely be sexually assaulted. Men here pray that they get a chance to sleep with a white woman like her. She is behaving so wildly. I can tell that she is arrogant by the way she behaves… and then there’s you. You are in a foreign land and you are not one of us no matter who gave you a Setswana name.
The Force: Something has changed in this interaction. He seems quite hostile now talking about ego and Self-Righteous Americans. Stay calm and remember your training. See what this person is trying to say to you.
A fight breaks out in the bar. A man, on the far side of the bar, begins to scream at and punch a woman near the front gate. Everyone watches, but no one intervenes. The woman falls to the ground due to the punches and submits. He stands over her yelling before he grabs her by the arm, dragging her to a table near the bar. She sits, holding her face, as he continues to speak to her firmly.
Cuecue: Arrogant. You’re not even listening to me. It seems that my understanding of Americans is good.
Self: We are here to help Botswana. We were invited by your President to help. Your accusations may apply to some people, but not to us. Your accusations are very general. What have I done to cause you to be so hostile towards me and my friend?
Cuecue: Your arrogance is even evident in your words. I am an old man and a true Motswana. I don’t have to explain myself to you. This is my land. Not yours. You owe all the explanations to me. You think that you are right, that you have the correct answers and view of the world. You think that if we talk for long enough that I’ll change my point of view. Your arrogance suggests that I don’t already know what you’re saying, that I haven’t been educated and that I don’t work towards helping my country and that all we need is more Americans. You think that will solve everything.
Cuecue stands as if to leave, then continues.
There have been thousands of people across hundreds of years. Some from the west, but many Batswana. You think that you’ll solve everything, that only you have the right answers, that you have the authority to judge. I’ll tell you that if you continue to think like that, you will most certainly be abused. Perhaps even tonight…
He walks away, and begins dancing with Nat.
You feel very hungry and lightheaded.
What do you do?
Sunday, July 29, 2012
With such a large amount of choices, you let the force guide you.
Nat: Hey Neo. You know that you really should go with me to this bar. I heard it’s a cool place with a great view of the mountains. There’s a braai there, music and a wide open area to dance. It will be fun.
Nat makes eye contact with you and continues.
Nat: It will be a good chance for us to relax, plus you should be able to find someone to hang out with when you get there.
She says with a wink and a smile.
Nat: You’ll have a lot of fun. Plus, we need to stick together as a group for safety. We’ll watch each other’s back.
Nat turns and slowly starts walking away. She turns and urges you on.
Nat: Let’s go.
As she leads the way she continues to talk.
Nat: You know, Neo, You really should try and stay with a group while you’re here in Botswana. Me, I like to do a lot of things and since we are going to be such close friends while we are here, you will get to do a lot of stuff. I really like things here. Do you know that I am very active in the church back home. I counsel children about being safe and still having fun, but there are a lot of nice looking people here. It’s like being in a candy store with soo many to choose from. I want to taste every piece of candy that can.
You continue to listen as you walk down a sandy path heading towards some small building in the distance. The trail is covered with broken glass and aluminum cans. Every step you take requires you to step on this rubbish. The shards make you concerned that your hippie sandals may not be enough to protect your feet, but as you register your concern, you see a small child without any shoes go running past.
The Force: Your feet will be fine.
You turn your gaze towards the sky as Nat chatters away in the background. It is such a wide open and beautiful sky. The clouds seem like a different type of cloud than the ones you looked at in The States. Certainly they are not, but the romance of being in Botswana, so far from home, sets in.
The Force: The gift of life is a treasure until itself. There are an infinite number of entities that will never get the gift or have had it taken away from them, through no fault of their own. You are lucky in this existence alone, but to be so additionally lucky as to be able to travel the world, to see and do things others dream of…you are truly lucky in your luck.
You smile as you walk down your glass and rubbish path, the sun slowly drops in the sky. You walk on for 30 minutes winding through village, past people dancing and staring as you pass. The sounds of animals and the droppings that they leave in the street and on the paths are like landmines. Cows, sheep donkeys, goats, and chickens all cross your path. They wander freely everywhere.
After some time, you turn onto a dirt road leading to The View Bar. You arrive at the gate to the bar and enter behind Nat who is very excited to be there. She heads directly for the Bar and orders a beer.
The Force: This is not a terrible idea. You do have some time to kill. Just go with the flow.
You step up to the bar and order a drink. Reaching into your backpack you pull out your bag of Pula, hand the bartender 12 pula for your drink and join Nat outside. Sitting down at a picnic table, you look around and notice that the bar is almost empty.
The sun is low in the sky.
Nat: It should get busier in a couple hours. We’ll just have some drinks until the braai starts and the other people arrive.
You look around and relax as you drink your drink and listen to Nat talk about Band-Aids, bugs and how she loves cheese. You feel hungry.
Friday, July 27, 2012
The Force: There is a phone ringing in your backpack.
You take your backpack off and begin to look for a ringing phone. Reaching inside, you feel several items. Some are soft to the touch and some are hard. You search for a phone. Not being able to find one, you begin to think that perhaps it was not a phone that is ringing, and that it could be anything. You remove your hand and look inside the bag searching for the source of the ringing. You see a book, a whistle, a blanket, a bottle of water, pens, a medical kit, a bag of money, a laptop computer, a ukulele, a multi-purpose tool and a ringing cellular phone.
As you pull the phone from the bag, the person walking towards you comes up and stands beside you. You immediately recognize Natalie, a PCV that came with you to Botswana. You remember that she’s from Los Angeles, California and everyone calls her Nat. You also remember that she expressed her interest in being close friends with you during your time in Botswana, and that she studied English in The States. She waits as you answer the phone.
Person on the phone: Dummela Neo. Ke nna Omphametse. O tsogile jang?
You recognize Omphametse’s voice. He is your motswana program manager. He is an employee of Peace Corps, and a Botswana national that oversees the work in your field.
Self: I’m fine. I…
Omphametse interrupts: Good. They are looking for you in your village. I informed them that you are still at the cave and they remembered that you told them you were going. I also reminded them of when to expect your return. I’m not sure why they called me.
It’s difficult to hear what he is saying, but you piece it together by asking him to repeat himself several times. There is background noise and the sounds of honking donkeys all around.
Omphametse: Don’t forget to write your report about your time in the cave upon your return to site. It’s due in 3 days. Goodbye.
Omphametse disconnects the call. It took 2 minutes, which was to long for Nat to wait. She has wandered off and is no longer in sight.
The Force: You have 3 days until you are due back in your village. It will take 1 full day of travel to get there.
It’s late afternoon, not quite evening.
You feel hungry.
Nat reappears in front of you.
Nat: Neo! I’m going to this real cool bar on the outskirts of town. You should come with me.
What do you do?
Thursday, July 26, 2012
You stand up and make a break for the entrance. As you move through the cave, you notice many more people in the cave with you. Your first guess estimates them to be about 50 in number. Some remain seated watching shadows on the wall, attempting to understand what the shadows are. You see your shadow move across the wall in front of them. Others are closer to the entrance talking to each other, while still others are closer to the back of the cave.
Self: Why am I in a cave?
The Force: The cave is yours. It is a place where an undesired situation has the least chance of occurring. You can be alone in the cave, in your designated area, or interact with others. Once you leave the cave, you will experience things as they are. Some situations will be undesired.
Self: I don’t like caves.
The Force: Given that, it is logical that you you the SOP of leaving a cave to create a situation in which you are not inside a cave, and most logical that you are doing it now. By informing The Force that you do not like caves helps to change the situation for those that come after you. Perhaps, if you become powerful enough, you can change the entry point for this world. Understand that everything you do will shape The Living Force.
As you move closer to the entrance, you are stopped by a person and given a backpack. It is heavy.
Person: Do you know how to identify a Peace Corps Volunteer?... They always have a backpack.
You resume your run toward the entrance, now carrying your backpack on your back. Stepping outside the cave you see.
(Several people with backpacks are standing outside the cave. Some are talking to each other and some others are moving off into the distance. You see many other people, without backpacks, performing tasks similar to to the people you would see on the streets in The U.S., but there is something strange about the way they are doing them.
There are roads leading North, South, East and West as well as several well-traveled paths that crisscross in multiple directions. There are cows, goats, chickens, dogs and donkeys wandering throughout the lands around you.
You hear a ringing coming from your backpack, and a person is walking towards you.)
What do you do?
Now that you have been here for some time, what have you learned? Have you learned that words and actions are meaningless without relating them to something, and that that something must be considered separate from you and common to all, in order to communicate your perception of things to others? I say that it must be CONSIDERED separate because all things are related by a single unifying commonality that we call “The Force.”
Here at The Academy, we teach you how things are done. We teach you the common language and the standard operating procedures that can be used to develop desired situations. As an individual, you can develop a finite number of situations using the standard operating procedures that you have learned at The Academy. If you use the common language of The Force, you can coordinate your use of operating procedures with others. Working with others increases the number of situations that can be created. However, that number remains finite.
Alex: Why are we here?
We are here to learn and to build.
Margie: To learn what and build what?
We are here to learn the common language of The Force, that we all share, and to build the situations that we know how to build.
John: How do we decide what to build or create?
There are others that have come before you, and they have created situations. You can alter the situations that they built, or build your own. By learning about the piece of The Force that is inside you, that piece will lead you throughout your entire life.
Adam: What do we do if we do not relate to The Force or to the standard operating procedures?
Those that came before you have created the situation that both The Force and standard operating procedures are included in the training at The Academy. Some do not relate to The Force or The SOPs because those that have come before you were unable to develop s situation in which The Force can be related to all persons. Using SOPs you can develop a situation in which The Force relates to you so that those that come after you can relate. The relationship you have with The Force and with the SOPs will be different for each of us. It follows that those that do not relate to the SOPs may develop a relationship with them in a similar way by using The Force. The force and the SOPs relate to each other in this way.
You have completed your required training at the academy. You have been given your host families and have experienced the planet for some time now. You have created situations and have experienced created situations. You have done this on your own, and now I will join you and create a relationship with you using the SOP for building a relationship, and it is up to you which way we go together.
Tracy: Who are you?
I am the The Force that connects all things, and the SOP that creates. I am those that came before and those that will come after. I am you.
Corey: How do we do something infinite?
You tell me.
Caitlin: How did all this get started?
(Looking around, you see those that came with you sitting in a cave. A light from outside is shining in to illuminate the entire cave. It is as brightly lit inside the cave as it is outside.)
What do you do?