Saturday, March 31, 2007

Innocence

Unpacking the Trip – Part 7
Part of an occasional series with thoughts on our trip to Ethiopia.

We were in the taxi when our driver said, "You Americans are so innocent." Since English is just one of several languages that Jacob spoke, I assumed he meant to use the word "naïve".

We had been discussing another family that was adopting a teenage girl who was handicapped. I objected to Jacob calling us Americans innocent.

"But Jacob," I said earnestly, "we can fix her handicap in America."

I did not really know if this was true or not, but I knew that if the best medical care in the world could not fix it outright, it could do something amazing and make it much better.

"I know," said Jacob. "No one in Ethiopia would have anything to do with her. That is why I say Americans are innocent."

It sank through. He was using the other definition of the word innocent – guiltless. What an incredible thing for a savvy Ethiopian to say, knowing full well that the involvement of the US government in Ethiopia hasn't been perfect over the years.

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