We have a coffee that comes from an area in Indonesia. We haven't had any for several weeks. People really like it because it's organic and free trade and all that. No one told me “why” we were out of the beans. So I just assume we hadn't roasted any for the same general reasons we run out of other coffee beans.
I just read an article online from the International Herald Tribune that detailed the unrest in that country. I guess the former prime minister was arming a civillian militia with plans to overthrow the government and make himself president. The current president forced him to resign and named a Nobel peace laureate in his place. A hundred thousand people have been displaced and are living in refugee camps. And just as many, if not more, have been killed by the Indonesian army. So they can't exactly go around picking our coffee beans. Here's the article if you're interested.
When stuff like this happens and you learn about it you want to smack the wealthy white people who are bitching about their favorite coffee not being in stock. It's like “Look, asshole, this world is a bit bigger than you and your $11 pound of cone-ground coffee.”
It puts the book I'm reading into a very current perspective: look how connected we all are and how these things affect our daily lives — but, also, look how spoiled we have become by the comforts of modern life.
Did you know that my dad was in Thomas Friedman's first book? Charlie read it and was discussing it with my father over dinner one night when my dad told us he was the Navy officer to whom Friedman was referring. They were traveling together and, at one point, noticed they were surrounded by men with machine guns and they were the only people in Beirut not armed. My dad was modest, saying all he did was spend one day in a car with this guy, never saw him again.
Charlie just finished reading this book and I had to trade with him because The Long Emergency was getting a little too heavy for me. It was riding the delicate balance between “Knowledge is power” and “Ignorance is bliss.” I had to tell Charlie, “if you're done with that book, please take this one.” I could barely make it three chapters without feeling a certain sense of paranoia about the world we're leaving to the next generation, and it definitely doesn't make me want to have kids. He said “Having kids is either the ultimate act of optimism or the ultimate act of selfishness.”
If 50 pages of this downer taught me anything, it's that it would be the ultimate act of selfishness.