Skip to main content

On complaining

The APCD (associate Peace Corps director) visited me today, and we had a very nice chat. A subject that came up was the amount of complaining relative to other countries that we had visited. He brought up Uganda, where teacher salaries are genuinely meager, where most teachers have to take a second job to make ends meet.

Yet here, where my principal makes $2400 per month (with zero housing cost), and even a normal teacher can afford a house and a car, complaining is like the national sport. From my parents I have a deep dislike of whining, a kind of British stoicism that I value highly. (Of course, I like to sit around and bitch the same as anyone--I'm talking about serious complaining, like when one's house has burned down.) My principal teaches one class, goes back to the staffroom, and spends the rest of the day talking about how tired he is. I just have to bite my tongue and smile.

A lot of people here seem...spoiled, I guess the word would be. Of course, they're not spoiled in a literal sense, as in having lots of material things and taking them for granted. They're spoiled in the sense that they don't know how good they have it, especially compared to countries like Zimbabwe or Sudan, and they don't value staying strong and not whining all the time. It's a weak, sickly kind of attitude, always demanding help from the government, and complaining bitterly when it doesn't come.

I suppose this like many other problems can be traced to Apartheid, which while stomping down the African tribes also kept them at a bare minimum of existence. I imagine this would quickly lead to a loss of motivation and an embrace of victimhood, as there was mostly no other option.

One of the tenets of adapting to another culture is accepting or even enjoying facets of that culture. The example they gave is bargaining, which I don't like much, but could imagine getting used to. Yet I don't think I will ever appreciate this aggrieved atmosphere (or the constant begging for money). Knowing where it comes from may help me tolerate it, but I'll never like it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha

The Conversational Downsides of Twitter's Structure

Over the past couple years, as I've had a steady writing job and ascended from "utter nobody" to "D-list pundit," I find it harder and harder to have discussions online. Twitter is the only social network I like and where I talk to people the most, but as your number of followers increases, the user experience becomes steadily more hostile to conversation. Here's my theory as to why this happens. First is Twitter's powerful tendency to create cliques and groupthink. Back in forum and blog comment section days, people would more often hang out in places where a certain interest or baseline understanding could be assumed. (Now, there were often epic fights, cliques, and gratuitous cruelty on forums too, particularly the joke or insult variety, but in my experience it was also much easier to just have a reasonable conversation.) On Twitter, people rather naturally form those same communities of like interest, but are trapped in the same space with differe