What Is The Americas Gift To My Generation

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 8:22:49 AM

What Is The Americas Gift To My Generation

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My generation

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I see reinvigorating our schools as a feasible and necessary step toward reuniting the four parts of our country. Eliot Brenowitz Seattle, Wash. The Republicans might split into nativist and traditionalist elements. Of course, absent some dramatic and highly unlikely reduction in the influence of money in American politics, a political system with four or more parties is a mere pipe dream.

Stephen Saker Lake Mary, Fla. Packer misses an important factor in his assessment of why Just America has taken the form it has. I am a Millennial, born at the leading edge of my generation. In , when the oldest Baby Boomers were the age that I am now, 28 senators were age 60 or older. Today, 70 senators are. Ross Gearllach Poulsbo, Wash. Climate anxiety is the framework in which my generation must evaluate ideas, and it gives extra weight to all our other demands. Generally, I wish Packer viewed with more optimism what I see as one of the positives of my generation, which is that few young Americans today believe they can exempt themselves from political life.

As a fellow white, male Baby Boomer and card-carrying member of liberal Smart America, I recognize the symptoms of his denial. It is hard for us to see, let alone fully comprehend, how much of what we take for granted as true and natural is simply a product of our dominant and privileged position in society, and of the ideas that justify it. Many of the truly just Americans I meet are fighting for a better America, are ferociously inclusive, and insist that the agency of the less privileged be acknowledged and respected.

Scott Macfarlane Syracuse, N. Like most elites, George Packer is vested in eliding any genuine leftism among wageworkers. Just Americans, by contrast, are a college-trained cadre; their outrage over conditions comes from elaborate theory. Why bother contorting your worldview like this? To the smart elites, Real Americans are the noble savages. They are abominable and admirable and will inevitably pass from the land.

Religion has been a fascinating component of my environment since childhood. At the beginning I was a believer. As a child, it was beaten into me, but as I matured, I began to look more closely at some of these claims and characters. Many of them were very colourful. As society became more materialist, more cynical, more unscrupulous, you had people taking to religion strictly for criminal business. As a writer, one is attracted by their creativity. They have more to offer in terms of drama. I enjoyed the range of contemporary references. If you are familiar with the Nigerian political landscape, you might even recognise thinly veiled satirical characters. Did you have to research the novel, or was all the material in your mind already?

Events around me just reached a kind of crisis point. Society really became insupportable in terms of what one could absorb on a daily basis. I make no bones about it: a lot of events are taken from real life. Some characters have been taken from real life, but then fictionalised. It is one of the reasons why I aimed to release the book before the 60th anniversary of Nigerian independence. I wanted this to be my present to the nation, to the people who live here: both the governed and those who govern, the exploiters and the exploited.

The novel also has a lot of cultural references, for example to Big Brother Africa. I find it nauseating. I watched Big Brother Africa out of duty when it first came out [in ]. My friends used to rush home. But the voyeurism was totally contrary to everything I believed. The title, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, seems to be a critique of Nigeria: we are happy despite all that is going wrong. Fela Kuti also criticises this trait in his song Shuffering and Shmiling , where he lambasts the populace for putting up with terrible conditions.

Would you describe yourself as happy? That title came about when I read somewhere a few years ago that Nigerians were among the top 10 happiest people in the world. Am I happy? When I step out of this environment, my heartbeat races. I try to attain a state of equilibrium where I can function as a human being. You choose to live in Nigeria when you could live anywhere in the world. Each time I was in exile, I found I really could not feel at home elsewhere, not completely. Oh no. I do write in Nigeria. On my first stint in Senegal, I set down a chunk of the novel. Then I had to go back to earning a living. Believe it or not, I still have to do that, going out lecturing and so on. And then I started looking for another short stretch. President Kufuor, a friend, offered what I call his baronial house in Ghana.

So I moved from that little cottage by the seaside to the lap of luxury. I was looked after hand and foot and I was very appreciative of both. Does becoming a Nobel laureate mean that you feel more pressure when you sit down to write? None whatsoever. Just go out and do something else. Immerse yourself in the environment. Go to a bar. Get drunk. Well, try not to get drunk but just do something else, something positive. Read a book, go for a walk, interact with other people, watch nature, go out in the street and walk about with people. What did you think of the recent end S ars [the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police] protest , with young Nigerians calling for good governance and an end to police brutality?

That was a tragic event. It began in the heights of euphoria. It was more than that. It was an expression of discontent. To see this structured movement, I felt rejuvenated. The thugs took over. The villains took over. The underworld got in on the act. Prisoners were let loose. It was very depressing. Oh, hope.

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