Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Coffee and Humanity

Belmont Club links to a post on Hurl's Blog about coffee, Iraq, and humanity:

This morning I walked into the chow hall to fill my travel mug with fresh coffee. There is always a large urn sitting by the door filled with the stuff. One of the Iraqis employed by KBR (that's right, the Halliburton subsidiary employs local Iraqis, giving them jobs and hope) was draining the contents of the urn and preparing to brew a fresh batch. I didn't feel like waiting an hour or so for fresher coffee - what was still in the urn was good enough.
He let me fill my mug, then offered me sugar and milk. He didn't speak English and I don't speak Arabic, but through pointing and hand gestures it was clear what he was saying. I turned them down saying I only like coffee black - no milk or sugar. Of course like him, I didn't just say it, I also used a variety of improvised gestures to augment my communication efforts. It was clear he understood when he suddenly smiled broadly and began expressing to me that he also liked his coffee black with no milk and no sugar.
We stood there momentarily smiling at each other, not saying a word. Then I said goodbye, gave him a brief wave and turned to leave. He nodded and also waved goodbye.
As I walked out of the chow hall, I thought about this exchange for some time. Two complete strangers from radically different cultures thousands of miles apart. Neither of us spoke the same language. Yet we discovered a bit of commonality in our preference for black coffee. Our efforts to communicate about this seemed to draw our two cultures just a little closer. It seems we both became aware of this about the same time - smiling at one another with the realization that an unknown American and an unknown Iraqi liked the same thing.
I wonder how many more shared interests, ideas - even customs - we might have. After all, we're both human beings. I would bet that what causes joy and sadness, satisfaction and disappointment, is probably pretty much the same for both of us. I'm sure he loves his children in very much the same way I love mine.

Hurl's a good writer (I know I've visitted his blog before, though it's been a while) and brings a human side to what we normaly see as a distant set of events on the evening news. That, to my mind, is one of the great things about blogdom. Sure, there are lots of silly blogs written by college students counting their belly button lint, but in a world where there are so many books published its impossible to find anything interesting to read at Borders, blogs provide a loose network you can follow back to interesting stories that never see the light any other way.

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