Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chinua Achebe at Brown University

I find it quite wonderful when great people are humble.I wonder even if being humble is part of the package of greatness. Unfortunately many younger people of today confuse confidence with arrogance and that's very sad. One act of such arrogance can taint people's view of you forever. One must never forget their true place. Just recently I read about someone who met one of our young, up and coming African writers and how after the person met this writer she could no longer read the writer's books in the same way. The writer showed such ungratefulness and arrogance everyone involved in the event lost respect for the writer.

Chinua Achebe has done so much for African literature and yet this interview in The Brown Herald shows that he tries to keep things in perspective. He does not accept such titles as "the father of modern African literature" because he knows the establishment of African literature is and was a cooperative process.

When commenting on what the Brown community has done to increase awareness of African issues, Mr. Achebe had praise for the university.

"That’s really where our hope is — peace and harmony in the world, peace and harmony among thinkers. When I say harmony I don’t mean that people who disagree should stop disagreeing. If there’s a good reason to disagree then disagree as strongly as you can — that’s the only way we can straighten out our problems."

I love this most because he points out that peace is not agreeing. If we all agree, we can't move forward, we get stuck in one spot. Points of disagreement are where we find a new thought, an angle we hadn't taken into consideration, a new way to solve our problems. Respectful disagreement is the way to true peace and development.

A great, humble man- Brown has much to look forward to.


Sue Guiney said...

A good friend of mine is on the board of Brown, so I had heard about this,. It's fantastic for the students there. I hope it's as good for him. A wonderful experience all around.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

What a good topic for a post. Lauri. Parents just don't teach their kids to behave with one iota of humility anymore. At least here in the U.S., many parents tell these spoiled little brats that they're "special" and call them "stars" when they aren't special in any way at all, and what a disservice. I have done my best to teach my children that greatness is not only measured by accomplishment but by what kind of human being you are. If you step on everyone's head to reach your goals, then you cancel out whatever you have achieved. In the end, one can only hope such egomaniacs will get there's in the end.

Anonymous said...

Last year I worked for a small, independent publisher. Some of the writers were so arrogant. Oddly enough, once their book was published they sank like a stone. But the down-to-earth ones flourished.

I love to meet brilliant people who are also humble. It restores my faith in humanity.

And for those who aren't humble - get over yourself!

Ron Alexander said...

I have long admired Mr. Achebe. His book, Things Fall Apart, I see as being a literary classic. I can easily understand why people sometimes confuse arrogance with confidence. In my own book, Don't Tell Me What To Do, A Spiritual Memoir, I write about my own arrogance, as well as anger and resentment. Arrogance, I believe, is a hostile view of the world where everyone is perceived to be an adversary. It is also a selfish assumption that it's all about me. Read a chapter from my book by going to my website and you will see just how much arrogance was a part of my life.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great people ARE humble and, as I have witnessed, are patient with the non-humble and the young. I don't think you can teach humbleness; I think it comes from observing greatness. But that's just me.

Lauri said...

Elizabeth- You're right that those apretns are doing their children a disservice. Perhpas this is why there is such entitlement nowadays? Everyone thinks they're the queen.

Selma- sorry about that job experience. I think for most writers, after getting that first book published, and receiving that first royalty cheque- things get forced back into correct focus!

Ron- Good luck with your book and thanks for stopping by!

Journaling Woman- you are also right about patience- patience when dealing with the arrogant is also a very helpful trait.

Anonymous said...

I love the part about hope. Without hope, we're never going to get anywhere. People with no hope struggle to thrive. Blessed are the peacemakers!

Stephen Tremp