I just finished reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It’s an interesting book written by someone who was just wondering what it all really means. Is there some overarching meta-story that we’re all a part of? He looks at human history with a narrow scope to see how guns, germs, and steel have helped some of us develop and left some of us behind. One has to wonder whether or not the whole of human history can be boiled down so easily. Nonetheless he presents some interesting facts and interesting theories albeit in a prose that can be at times both obtuse and dry.
As I’ve had some time to get adjusted to life here in Mali I’ve started to wonder what kind of impact I could possibly have during my service over the next two years. I have a pretty good idea of what I’d like to accomplish. I would like to help reorganize my mobile bank into several independent savings and credit associations. I’d like to help my women’s cooperative develop a sound business strategy and organize them to make it a reality. And if I have time maybe I’ll build a library for fun. There are a lot of things I can DO but does that define who I AM? Who knows if I’ll succeed or fail? Isn’t it enough that I came here and tried to make a difference? Even if I do achieve a certain measure of success and in my wildest dreams accomplish everything I came to do does that mean anything? I hear about past volunteers and what they did here and it all seems very impressive on paper but the reality is that the more things change the more they stay the same. The game is the game. All that progress that was made before, all that was accomplished here, what of it? I see two years ahead of me but all I can do is live day by day just looking forward to the next holiday or the next vacation until I get back to America so I can figure out the rest of my life. Meanwhile my neighbors, friends, and coworkers live in blissful ignorance.