Overwhelmed by the Greatest Invention
Last Friday we (my wife, son and I) went to see a play "The Overwhelming" about the Rwandan genocide. This post is not going to be a review of the play – which turned out to be quite good after a very slow first act. In many ways the play is about the collision between an American academic and his family (who assume the rule of law is universal) and various Rwandan’s who keep saying things like "do you know where you are?" In the end, this clash leads to some dark and brutal consequences.
I have spent a lot of time in Africa dating back to my Peace Corps days in Mali, to three business trips to Lagos, Nigeria (when I went in and out of Murtala Mohamed airport six times when it was one of the airports about which there were warnings in all other airports), the surface crossing of the Sahara desert and a recent visit to Uganda and Rwanda. When you add it all up, it is a lot of time, and Nigeria was (when I visited at least) a pretty dangerous place. Anyway, in all the time I spent in many African countries, I never felt threatened. And, nothing bad ever happened. Having said that, we visited Thailand a couple of years ago. We had a great trip. When we got home, we learned that the airport had been bombed by extremists just a few hours after we had left. Crazy stuff can happen anywhere.
Switching gears for a moment, NPR recently had a piece on what is the greatest invention? The Polio vaccine? Electricity? The internal combustion engine? The Flush toilet? My vote is not an invention at all, in the sense that it is not tangible. My choice is the rule of law. The rule of law enables everything.