Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A lesson in naïveté

Most of you know I’m still one of those people who is convinced that I can somehow help to save the world. My definition of what that means is clearly a lot more realistic than it once was, but nonetheless, it is an attitude that I have fought to maintain. It is a belief that has also gotten me called naïve more than once, and I don’t argue with my critics. I think even trusting that the world can be changed for the better, and thinking that people are, deep down, good and have the capacity to care for one another, is something that requires a bit of naivete, if only to prevent the cynicism that it is so easy to fall into.
Nonetheless, all of you know that four weeks ago I took in three boys to live in my house. The first night, I half expected to wake up and find my computer and any money I had gone. But, I took a risk and let them stay. They then turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in Namibia. I came to trust and love them very much, and defended their character to the other teachers and miscellaneous adults who were concerned about them.
I think the fact that I got behind them so much and let myself care about them so wholeheartedly is what made today the hardest. It turns out that over the weekend, a teacher and the woman who owns the house saw someone inside and went to confront the person. The boys had taken a key from my kitchen drawer and snuck in after I left Thursday morning. They lied and told the owner that I had asked them to watch the house. Then, when I came home yesterday, they lied to me. They told me someone had tried to break in but had been scared off. They said the owners had come to get them and asked them to stay at the house. I was so freaked out I didn’t question the story and was glad that they were there last night.
Today, however, the boys were caught in their lies. It was my job to tell them how disappointed I am, how let down I feel and that they have to (once again) get out. I know all of this sounds a bit melodramatic, after all these are 15 year old boys lying about something that any kid might. But this has been very difficult for me. I think it’s the fact that the trust I had in the only people other than my learners that I really strongly care for, has been completely broken. I think it’s the fact that I’ve been made a fool out of, in front of the teachers who are all thinking (and some saying) “I told you so” and my world teach community, who were notified of the “break in” for safety reasons. Or it could just be that today was a pretty awful day even before I had to deal with all of this anyway.
It is, however, a good opportunity for me to reflect on that glimmering naivete that I try to maintain. Being optimisitic and hopeful is what I am really striving to be, but I still think you have to be at least a little naïve to not turn into a cyinc, especially living in a place like this where it would be so easy to blow off all of the poverty, lack of education, and health issues and just decide that they cannot be solved. Wish me luck in trying to balance these character traits, despite the little reminders that it’s too easy to get burned.

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