Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Broccoli Soup and World Affairs

I love broccoli soup and so does my 13-year-old grandson, Spencer. Sunday, I enjoyed both the soup and Spencer.

He and his dad and his brother Victor came by for lunch. My dear husband Robert made the soup from scratch, and grilled cheese sandwiches on his homemade bread. Can't do much better than that for a cold day's lunch.After the usual, "How's it going?" "Please take your hat off at the table," "How was the band concert?" -- things got more interesting.

He started talking about Iraq and Bush. I was delighted that he was up to date and very interested and concerned. That got us going back to other wars. I pulled out one of my special favorite books, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture by Ruth Benedict, 1944."This sort of study is what should have been done for Iraq before we got into such a quagmire" I told him.

The study of Japanese culture was assigned to Benedict during WWII by the Office of War Information. It was done to objectively assess "the enemy's" strengths and weaknesses. It was also done to facilitate Allied occupation after the war ended. Americans were not at all familiar with Japanese thinking. Then and now we tend to assume that all people think and will react as we do. Spencer already had knowledge about samurai and warrior behavior.

He commented later on our dysfunctional and divisive Congress. This took me back to the bookshelves to pull out another long-time favorite book – Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787 by Catherine Drinker Bowen, 1966. I said “Every member of congress should be required to read this book before taking office.” Bowen’s book shines light on the art of compromise.

The framers of our constitution gave up their sacred cows and long-held beliefs in order to come up with a document which has guided our country. The author said in the preface, “… one sees them struggle with the bias of birthright, locality, statehood – South against North, East against West, merchant against planter.”

Spencer wanted to read the book so I’m sending him one for Christmas. I look back at myself at 13 and know I would have been totally uninterested in a history book. But, at 13 I didn’t like broccoli.

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Anonymous Karen said...

What a wonderful grandmother you are to pursue his interest in history and to have those book available to him. What a teenager he must be to be interested in history and to pursue it!

6:33 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Karen, thanks for your comment.

It is very easy to be a wonderful grandmother when one has a wonderful grandson. I don't know why he is so interesting and smart. At his age I only thought about boys and clothes. If my grandmother had tried to give me a history book I would have been bored to tears.

I am lucky.

on an island in the California Delta

9:17 AM  

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