Friday, July 24, 2009

To Africa, I think

There was once a great book I read, that I think may have been called The Well of Worlds. I checked it out from the Princeton Public Library once a long time ago, but it doesn't seem to be on amazon or heard of anywhere. Nor can I locate it on the PPL catalog. One afternoon I will have to make a dedicated search for it, but the book was quite impressive in several regards. Most obviously it had a complex and fascinating alternate history scenario which posited a continuing Aztec Empire, and rising powers in Africa in the 19th century. (that summary does ill-service to the ideas, however, describing them more precisely would require the book itself or at least a good deal more time to search my memory)

But the book was also outstanding on a character level, and the main character was a bit of a rake, who fell in love, pursued his love, but his rakish-ness got in the way again and then... and then his love, as filled with ambition as he was, decided to head to Africa to see the new kingdoms modernizing and advancing, and he decides to head that way as well, the book ending on a chapter called "To Africa, I think" or something of the like.

I mention that because today was completed SEACOM, the beginning of cheap high-speed internet access in Africa. Given that cell-phone technology has already been utilized successfully, to an extend beyond many areas of the Western World, in Africa to enhance communications, this is an immense potential boon to the continent and opens all sorts of opportunities for productive innovation that could help millions in the long run and...

Maybe a little bit of a hyperbole, but this forces me to ask myself... why am I here?

Of course, I have answers, family, friends, danger enhanced by mental illness, danger posed by mental illness, the financial cost of mental illness, etc., and when I'm rational about it, I know that if I wanted to plop myself down in the middle of nowhere and start improving things, well, it would require immense sacrifice, immense risk, immense distress to my loved ones, and carry a very low chance of success.

So I'm not going to run out to Africa anytime soon. But I do believe we'll see some rising innovations there and some amazing progress in the next few decades, if God wills it (please Lord help the people of Africa, and help us all, your weak and sinful servants). And so I still look wistfully at times to the East, and there are times when I wonder if when my circumstances are different (for they have been and continue to be dynamic, though in ways sometimes hard to tell), will I pick up a suitcase and say...

"To Africa, I think."

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

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