Monday, May 04, 2015

Reader's Diary #1148- Albert Camus: The Renegade


Sometimes, arguably all of the time, one's interpretation of a story depends on your mind set at the time you read it. Mine at the moment is dwelling on patience. When I started my MLIS degree a couple of years back, I knew it would require patience and sacrifice. I was prepared for it. And while I'm still wholeheartedly enjoying my program and the path my career is on, for the first time since I started, my patience recently wore thin. I found myself wanting to be done the program and to be in there, fully, 100%, to start pushing changes, to get my hands dirty, so to speak. But, when I step back (or am prevented from stepping forward just yet), I realize that I need to reclaim some of my former patience. Find my Zen again. It will come. And change shouldn't happen overnight. Those who think it should are naive, not fully appreciating why things are the way they are and what change entails. If such people charge in and start tipping tables, they're likely to just make a mess. That's not me. I may not agree with the "because it's always been done that way" excuse, but I also have a healthy respect for tradition and culture. I want to be heard by but also learn from those who came before me, not to push them out of the way.

Sorry you had to sit through all that self-reflection. Occasionally, these Reader's Diary entries live up to their name and it gets a little... awkward. Anyway, my point is, Albert Camus's short story "The Renegade" (go here, find Camus's Exile and the Kingdom and scroll), would surely appear to most as a story about religion, or perhaps even xenophobia.

I think such interpretations are fine, and perhaps the more obvious and logical (it's about a missionary to Mali who winds up being tortured and converted, rather than having converted others), but because of where I am right now, I saw it as a parable warning against being overly eager and self-righteous. The missionary in this story was so impatient about going to Mali to convert the supposed heathens that he rebelled against those who told him that he was not yet ready, not prepared, and in the end he was weak and became a convert to the very ideas he had been hoping to change.

I don't want to be that guy. 

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