Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sybert Part Deux

The end of Sybert's tale?

He spends a significant amount of his time and energy helping Italy.  As Marcia's uncle related, "He's had almost as much influence as the police in quieting the trouble...He understand [the people] as well as an Italian, and yet he is a foreigner, which gives him, in some ways, a great advantage.  They trust him because they think that, being a foreigner, he has nothing to make out of it." (p 267)

Well, that was the 'foreign' point of view of Sybert's efforts.

The Italians' view?  "You betrayed us!"  Those were the real words of his friend Tarquinio in a murder attempt on Sybert's life (and on Marcia's uncle's life as well).

Sybert himself concluded: "The people no longer trusted him; he could do no more good in Italy; his work was at an end."  (p 323) Sybert decides to return to America, to live in a country he doesn't call home.

Kind of heartbreaking.

Now I realize that this is a book, a fictional one at that, but I feel that there are Syberts all over the world who are trying to do good somewhere and sometimes their work is seen only as the work of an outsider.  It can be discouraging.

In fact, one recent book, White Man's Burden by William Easterly, there is apparently plenty of data to back the idea that foreigners have done more to hurt rather than help in struggling and developing countries.

To further back that claim, I have been impressed by how Japan has started rebuilding and recovering after the earthquake and tsunami prefecture hit the Miyagi prefecture this past March.  From even the small scope of Japanese soccer that I am aware of, there have been multiple charity soccer games as well as multiple charity auctions and events.  Likewise, Hasebe donated all the royalties from his book to the cause aimed at helping children specifically.  His book was the number one selling book in Japan last year (2011) and he managed to raise 95 M yen from his book alone for the cause (1.2 M USD).  One soccer blog website has raised 46 M yen for the cause as well.  This is, almost exclusively, the Japanese giving to the Japanese.  Japan is progressing.  Of course it still has a long way to go but it's on a steady road to recovery, thanks to its own people.

Is the friend correct then?  Can help only be given by those who are not considered outsiders?

I'm not trying to rock the boat.  I'm just trying to get a grip on the situation.  For a girl who dreams of helping people, it's important to know how/when/where help can be given and received.

I guess this post really has no answers.  I was hoping I would get to the root of the answer.  However, each time I try to analyze and examine this issue, I come up short.

Your thoughts?

(It must be noted, from the one comment I got on the first post that I think the United States and its culture is a beast unto itself.  In some sense Americans consider anyone to be American.  I have English students who told me one of their biggest complaints is that Americans just assume they are American as well and so speak in rapid English to them.  To me, that shows how accepting America is of diversity.  Then again, there are entire genres of literature within American literature that are dedicated to how the majority of America struggles to integrate and accept the minority lending idea to the fact that 'being American' is not as simple as choosing to move here.)

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