I found this photo (via facebook Group) of my class when I was in Grade 2, in 1974, in Lusaka, Zambia. How great is that? I do remember a few classmates – vaguely. I suspect those whom I have a clearer image of, I was with them in later grades as well.
So, the challenge – which lovely young (and messy) lady am I??
+With the recent Black Lives Matter movement, topics around racism have been brought to the surface and there are conversations happening that have been too quoet for a long time.
Therefore, it is really interesting to note that in the early 1970’s, in Africa, we were brought up together. We had friends of all colours and religions (I like the feasts with gold leaf the best). We intermingled and had sleepovers with nothing but curiosity at that which was different to our family and culture.
White children were about 45% of my class. Zambian Independence had only happened 10 years previously (and peacefully). The key seems to have been fore-sighted teachers and school officials ensuring that we were all brought up to share our commonalities and to explore the unknown. I remember being totally overwhelmed by the American Embassy – where my school friend lived. The food, the accent, the decoration was all foreign to me, and I was never completely at ease. But my Hindu friend and i were spoiled by her mother making us gorgeous saris to wear (I felt like a wonderful princess with magical abilities.)
In fact I had so many interactions that were fun and interesting.
And it must be noted that this was Not a case of “redress” or “affirmitive action” or “window dressing”. It was genuine – all classes of all the years have similar photos in terms of ethinicity.
After the previous grumpy girls, I decided to have another attempt at portraits, and chose this lovely, happy, enchanting lady from Mongolia. I did some research first on facial features and proportions, on skin colours and shadows. This took quite a while, and helped me understand what I was doing a bit better. But I seem to have ended up painting not really sticking to anything I had researched in any detail: more just feeling my way. I spent way too long on it, over worked it, struggled a lot with blending; but I had fun, and she always makes me feel better and brings a wee smile to my face.
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
After I finished the lion, I decided in a fit of madness , that I wanted to paint a portrait next. I chose a Mongolian girl in a pensive mood. I knew it would be hard, but completely under estimated the degree of difficulty. Proportions, Skin Colours, Highlights and shadows, hair, skin, and so it goes on.
But I tried.
And I kept redoing and redoing – especially the eyes, nose and ear. And it got worse, and muddier. Eventually I gave up on the poor thing. She is now called the “Grumpy Girl”, even though I don’t think she is.
However, I did attempt her again (that is me – perfectionist who refuses to give up.)
At the moment, the world is bewildering, frightening, illogical, frustrating, formidable, dire, demoralizing and daunting. I am filled with alarm, fear, distress, and despair. I think about the past: the errors and the successes. I think about how it appears that our rulers, governments and the people have forgotten the reality of the past.
Recently I have been given a number of books on the build-up to World War II. The 1930’s. It is fascinating to see all the “near misses” by which the war could have been avoided – if only people had listened and observed the reality rather than the sham actions which were performed to misdirect the world from the real process of creating an absolute dictatorship aimed at annihilation of certain groups of people. We look back, and it is assumed that the West were the victors, the “goodies”. But before the war the Western politicians did not take notice of the events in Berlin and elsewhere. They assumed that if they could talk to Hitler, war was very unlikely – after all, he was (apparently) charming, quiet and intelligent.
Germany was in the midst of advertising their nation as being a wonderful place for a holiday. And so visitors flocked to Germany.
They loved the scenery, the young people who were all strong, fit and blonde. Who stayed in youth hostels in gaggles (this was the Hitler Youth – already brainwashed).
The SS had been formed and were in the background in case of any dissent. Some holiday goers (and diplomats) were even taken to visit the “highly successful labour camps” – they came away impressed at how well the “guests” were looked after – it turns out that the inmates they saw – were prison guards dressed up nicely and smiling. There was little enquiry as to why there were camps at all.
In addition, I got a fright reading about all the English and Americans supports of fascism, racism and even nazi-ism.
And, in my humble opinion, it seems that quite a large chunk of humanity has yet again bought into the rhetoric of fascism and populism: oblivious to reality and utterly devoid of empathy, respect and integrity.
I am scared. I am getting “scarder”. And I am petrified of the future my children are having foisted upon them, It seems unfair (but a huge compliment) that it is the youth that will have to redress the wrongs of this generation. But they are intelligent, tech-savvy, globally aware and compassionate. I believe that they can achieve great changes for the better. I don’t believe the older generation can (especially if they keep harking back to “we won the war” – actually “we” didn’t; dare I say that was the cold war’s arch enemies – the Russians, that actually turned the tide.)
What is happening is that we are Living through History. As unpleasant as it is. The following quote (Daily Stoic) helps me:
“It’s strange to think that we can take comfort from this, but we can. Marcus Aurelius wanted us “to bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before. And will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging.” Everyone who’s ever lived, including you, lived through history. They experienced the sausage being made—and that’s never pretty.
Realize that that’s what is going on right now. That’s what the Trump presidency is. That’s what COVID-19 is. That’s what climate change and Black Lives Matter protests and so many other things are. These are historical events and you’re living through them. It’s up to you whether you live through them passively, or actively. You have the chance to influence that history. Some of us in a big way, others in a smaller way. But we all have the opportunity to face them with proper Stoicism—which means not panicking, not betraying your principles, that means acting with courage, moderation, justice and wisdom.“