Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14: Congratulations due to the Moncton TandT

I look forward to the part of the Whatever section written by middle school and high school students. It's one of the few parts of the paper that is honest, thoughtful, unpretentious, and well written. Today, the column by Tess Allen caught my eye.

Ms. Allen attended a model UN for high school students at St. Thomas University. Beautifully written, simple, clear, personal without pretending to be expert, her column breathed the excitement and intellectual srimulation of that event. I know what she meant.

My sons attended it, too. They were excited to go, and with an excitement they still feel today. They had the thrill and stimulation of meeting students who had the same interests as them. They weren't alone. They weren't outsiders; and the experience opened a world to them.

New Brunswick needs far more of that. New Brunswick is not a province of a rich mixture of peoples. New Brunswickers are nice people; but most of them are pretty much like most of the others. The result is that students get very little exposure to different outlooks and enthusiasms, though they need that as a flame needs oxygen. Our children get very little of that sharing and growing experience except, perhaps, in playing hockey or smoking pot.

I've been dismayed to see so little of the UN conference in the paper; no sense of the voluntary effort and time from public school teachers (though it happily spits vitriol all over them when Atlantic Institute of Market Studies wants it to); no sense of how important this events was for our children. Tess Allen made up for that.

Nathan Rinzler was thoughful on a seemingly light topic, getting a summer job by relating it to Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". I should, though, offer a small correction. The novel is not quite a fable. For almost a century, Belgium pillaged the resoruces of Congo, in the process killing, torturing, maiminng uncounted millions. Forced out after World War Two, the Belgians left behind no schools or hospitals, just land poisoned by their theft. The Congo's first, elected president was murdered as other western countries moved in for the riches still to be stolen. The murder was not a coincidence. Western mining companies, protected by mercenary thugs, continue to loot Congo, and to be indifferent to the hunger and disorder they have created. Every minute of every day, a woman (or child) is raped in Congo. A man who sat on the board of a Canadian company operating there was Brian Mulroney. Just a coincidence. I'm sure he had no idea what was going on.

But Rinzler still does a fine job of putting a seemingly small but really very important matter into our consciousness.

I don't want to give special notice to anybody, though. Isabelle Agnew does her usual fine job, reinforcing the theme of Tess Allen's column with the excitement of theatre arts. Christina Korotkov shows a level of wisdom and maturity that few of us adults ever reach. So does Jana Giles, and with a writing skill I would have been happy to see in university students.

Alex Corbett picked up well on the joy of interacting with people who make him more aware of his own interests. Aurelie Pare offfers a column that starts simply enough, then hits us with a final sentence that is thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Why are these columns so successful?

The writers are sharing the world they see and feel with us. We, or at least the lucky ones among us, have been there, too. They're talking about the real world. They're talking about it without pretending they are experts or opinion leaders. They aren't trying to tell us what to think. They're opening the way for us to do our own thinking.

They're honest. They're real.

The Moncton Times&Transcript staff deserves congratulations for introducing this section. The Moncton Times&Transcript staff should also read it. And learn.

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