Monday, June 15, 2009

Pandemonium & reluctant acceptance of miracles (Part I)

The time came to open the grain bank, an event that I had been anxious about from the beginning. There's just so much to keep track of, and so many different ways to do things, and then for the committee to be new at it's a big responsibility, and I wasn't sure of the best way to run it. Which is fine, since I'm not supposed to run it anyway, but I couldn't help stressing about it. It was hard for me to figure out a respectful balance between giving constructive advice and sticking my nose into their business. It is theirs, after all. And, as they kept telling me, the women'll run it the way they want to, when it comes down to it. So I kept my mouth shut most of the time, opening it only to say:

1. The grain is for selling, not for giving away.
2. The bank had better be full with grain again after the harvest.

Another reason that I was anxious about the grain bank opening was because I have come to dread, and indeed avoid, womens' meetings that involve more than 20 people. The way womens' business is carried out here- loudly, chaotically, everyone-shouting-at-each-other-at-the-same-time- makes me want to disappear. I won't pretend that I like it. I despise it. I think my difficultly with it is born out of major culture differences in the way groups of people make decisions. In the States, I was taught to present articulate, well-prepared arguments in as calm and dignified way as possible. I was taught that one person speaks at a time, and that other people listen, and that if someone gets loud and agitated it means that they feel very strongly about something, and that probably they're angry or disagree with what that was said. Groups of loud people mean that people are fighting, and that something bad is happening, etc etc etc.

Here, though, it's different. Things happen like this: two hundred women sit under a tree, one woman starts talking, then another woman stands up and starts yelling, and within 15 seconds (I timed it), every woman is standing, half of them are yelling, and no one is listening because you can't hear anything except noise. It's hard to imagine, I think, because it's unusual at home. But try: you're in this crowd, fists are in the air, voices are raised, people are up in your face and shouting things that you can't understand, and this goes on and on beyond the point where you think that people should really chill out.

At home, I believe the word for this is Riot.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I can relate to this, I see it at school all the time!! :)