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Where one road ends and another begins,
A transition occurs as terrain dips and spins.
Dissonance, perhaps, due to an imbalance in the Earth,
Or a struggle for the power as each path boasts its worth.
As fond and feral as can be, the paths share more than scrat,
Not one o’er the other appears to be a cement aristocrat.
Neither a storm-cloud nor a sunny day could catch the roads by shock,
For the intersection n’er goes awry, like the ticking of a clock.
Decades, centuries, come and go as frequent passersby,
As if to say, ‘The time will come when swine and pixies fly.’
The roads respond with little angst and carry through and through,
There comes a day we wake up and see,
The roads are me and you.
“The Second Coming”
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
-William Butler Yeats
ESSAY — In the classic novel, Things Fall Apart, a perceived primitive African society is usurped by European colonial expansionism, subjecting the indigenous peoples to religious persecution and societal overhaul. Throughout Chinua Achebe’s novel the constant reminder of cultural intolerance and residual damage caused by colonial expansion is immanently clear. Achebe’s motives behind the novel, as well as its everyday interpretation, can be broken down scrupulously to the growing African interest in the Civil Rights Movement and the end of colonialism in Africa. Echoing themes of the Igbo people’s experiences with European contact resonate in today’s societal landscape. The constant reassurance that the “white man” has the clans’ best interests in mind leaves the Igbo at a disadvantage, likely attributed to their lack of previous experience with deceit. Expanding on a social structure predicated on the trust and honor of even the clans’ most reviled enemies, the Igbo people waste no time in establishing what they see as a trusting relationship with the European colonials.
Taking the novel’s 1958 publication date into consideration, the themes of Things Fall Apart are all but concealed. In a time of much tension and abhorrence, Achebe throws out the ideas of colonial expansionism as a sort of distasteful demonstration, cleverly disguising many metaphoric parallels to the Civil Rights Movement sweeping the United States. With President Eisenhower’s inauguration into his second presidential term in 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was gathering press and making waves throughout the South. It is quite Achebe’s potential influence by growing press in America for social revolution may have lit the spark that drove the deep-seeded themes within the narrative.
Chinua Achebe’s ability to constantly utilize appeals to ethos and pathos throughout the narrative indicate an understanding of the Igbo culture on a much deeper level than meets the eye. By assigning certain character traits and views to Igbo clansmen, oftentimes tragic flaws, constant links to modern society can be drawn. For instance, the chauvinistic disposition of all male clansmen in Achebe’s work further emphasizes the ignorance and religious blindfold draped upon the eyes of the Igbo. An easy comparison to today’s American societal landscape would be the continuing precedent that males in the workforce are paid up to thirty percent (30%) more on average than women performing the same tasks. The male partiality become increasingly apparent as the story evolves and Okonkwo’s (protagonist) treatment of his wives and children grow ever more distasteful.
In reference to William Butler Yeats’ The Second Coming, colonialism is combated with the inevitable demise of the indigenous society. In a series of well-constructed bars, Yeats compares the relationship between the falcon and the falconer to the lack of understanding between the Igbo and European peoples. “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;” Yeats states, providing the perfect metaphor for the struggle to juggle both traditional religious practice and imposed crusades burdened upon the Igbo, that ultimately releases “mere anarchy… upon the world.”
Achebe’s most trivial motives for composing Things Fall Apart seem in many ways to be clear:
· - Increasing interest in the American Civil Rights Movement
· - European colonial era coming to a close in Africa (independence of Namibia in 1990)
· - Tribulations in society
Though the motives appear quite clear, the most significant intention behind the release of such a thought-generating work may have been a mere dutiful impulse. Behind all of the smoke and mirrors, there may in this instance appear to be a sense of nationalism. Achebe, in his finest hour, invokes a compassion for a people that puts the European colonial system to shame.
OPINION — The United States Department ofDefense has introduced quite a controversial, new war honor: theDistinguished Warfare Medal (DMW) for drone operators. Recognizing drone warfare combatants as worthy of praise while men and women of the United StatesArmy’s ground forces risk their lives, oftentimes without recognition, is downright infuriating. To add further insult to injury (or toss salt in an open wound), Department of Defense officials are looking to rank the honor higher than the prestigious Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Ranking combat medals by prestigeseems logical in theory, but when you make a mockery of such a system byincorporating success via cyber warfare and unmanned drone operation as amilitary feat, you have dishonored the men and women of the Armed Forcesrisking life and limb for their country on the front lines every day. Surelythese “desk jockeys” will receive these honors with open arms, knowing littleabout the landscape of the theatre in which they are fighting, while providingassault from what they see as little more than a mere video game. Without theimmanent feelings of war and the emotion behind taking another man’s lifepresent, decision-making and rationale behind actions may be distorted andconfused.
Though much can be said for theuseful nature of drones and unmanned military aircraft, the recognition of suchas honor-worthy factions of war is disrespectful at best. Tell the wife andchild of an Army ground forces operative that the service of theirhusband/father is less important/respected than that of a drone operator.
Fortunately, an increase in PurpleHearts and Bronze Stars appears to be rapidly approaching as President Obamahas noted the disparity between the Department of Defense’s definition ofheroism and that of reality.
Moral: Human lives will alwaysmean more than a hunk-of-junk death machine levitating a mile high. After all, ourforefathers poured their heart and soul into this country’s security, spillingblood along the way. No act of “virtual heroism” will ever live up to that.
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