Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cry, The Beloved Country

I have been a little bit worried that I have become a book snob. My sister, Maureen, is a music snob. She can't help it. But to someone like me, who loves music but isn't surrounded by it all the time like she is, I look at her a little sadly because it's harder to enjoy the simple things when jaded by snobbery.

The last two books I reviewed were ones loved by a lot of people. And, I didn't love them. Which worried me. Why didn't I love them or even like them A LOT? Am I reading too much? Am I being a nitpicker?

But, then, I read Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton and rejoiced in its greatness. I can still love and enjoy and feel a great book. This is a wonderful book.

It was written shortly after World War II, when apartheid and segregation in South Africa was the growing trend but not yet law. It explains the breakdown of an old system, the fear and confusion that followed with a lost generation. It was written with hope for a beloved country - hope to heal wounds. It's almost tragic to read knowing the history that followed.

But, other than than tragic hindsight, this book uplifts the spirit and gives hope to me that all of the different ways we segregate now can still learn. We can learn that, different as we may be, we can live together...help each other...try to understand each other. I want the religious right to read this book. I want the intellectual elite to read this book (and not just apply it to others). I want those afraid of immigration to read this. I want Michael Moore to read this.

Learn. And Change.

Best quote in the entire book (and there are a lot to choose from):

I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.

Read this book.

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