THE ROAD TAKEN Fellow Travelers on Humanity’s Highway « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Fellow Travelers on Humanity’s Highway

The Motion, Transocean

Our journey continues: see, Liberian Rain; A West African Chronicle, July 15-30, 2023 (July 17, 2023)

Tuesday, July 18 dawns and we venture forth, 7:00-ish, on the only road to town.

Last I knew, in March, this was a narrow two-lane potential death sentence, no shoulders, under construction, just sheer excavated drop-offs either side.  Now – and apparently after the president threatened his roads-and-bridges minister with criminal prosecution — it is transformed, a wide boulevard adequate in theory to fit ten cars abreast. Yet it is now unpaved and tightly cratered, vehicles as corpuscles in a free-flowing stream, no lanes, just vying for position while mindful of traffic oncoming, dodging and weaving in the driving rain.  Ah Liberia, how I have missed you.

Jay, at the wheel, the wipers whipsawing, holds forth on not-so-long-ago pandemic times.  As the West fell into fetal position, pundits intoned, “We are all in this together.”  Comforting perhaps, but just what part of “together” enfolds these shores?  Not much brother. Hey, Africa! Good luck and Godspeed. See you on the other side, hopefully.

We give homage to the God of Caffeine, Kaldis Koffee on Tubman Boulevard.  In the civil wars (1989-2003), teen warriors ate the hearts of their captives and, story went, became bulletproof.  “Protection Huge!!!” blared one unhinged 15-year-old fighter-cannibal to the camera in Liberia: An Uncivil War. No, this morning’s triple mega-size Americano isn’t quite the same, but one can’t deny a certain vapor of African-style invincibility obtained therefrom.

Yet, will we require greater fortification?  Today – and for the week – we workshop the faculty of the Cuttington University School of Graduate and Professional Studies (CUGS), professionals at the highest levels of Liberian education. What will they do with a couple of whippersnappers, neither of us formal “educators” per se.  Will they pass us off as trespassers or will we connect?

I float  the ice-breaker that somehow clicks across every international boundary.  “I am a lawyer.  Do you know what that means?” Silence, pause.  “That means you can trust me.”  Scattered laughter, lots of ah’s. Of course!

I venture that genius is in simplicity, the boil-down to workable truths running through life. We are not here to preach that you swallow these contents whole. While we will speak from  subjective certainty, it is up to each  of you to apply and find whether the material is of use.

Thus, we proceed through four rousing days. Closing Friday afternoon, a PhD-credentialed professor stands and proclaims the workshop first struck him as too elementary.  Yet, now seeing the power in Study Tech’s clean simplicity, he is renewed, recommitted to his citizen’s/educator’s duty and armed with these tools to engage and inspire.

I wrap, also heart on sleeve. At 94, my dad died this year. One lifetime is not an infinity.  Mortality – at least as one owns a name and physical existence – is part of what we have signed on for.  While I regard myself a young 73 (audible gasps – what, he’s that old?!) — blessed with an essential vitality and retaining, so far as I know, all marbles – my father’s passage is the reminder: time is a commodity.

To help is to live.  I have had that opportunity in post-genocide West Africa for nearly 20 years but how much is enough?  Perhaps jarringly, but fortunately, there is never an “enough.”

So, in whatever space remains this round, there is a new urgency.  Over this week, and across oceans, cultures and time, we share that sentiment.  … and so we work, together.

Back in Town
July 18, 2023

Tim Bowles
Friday, July 21, 2023
Monrovia, Liberia

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