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What has been going on in Papua New
Guinea is earth-flattening, and it has been on my mind ever since it
began. What's important, however, is that we focus on what this means
on the street. The media seems too caught up in worrying about their own
skins to pay attention to how their people are doing. Just call it
missing the battle for the bullets.
When thinking about the recent problems, it's important to
remember three things: One, people don't behave like migratory birds, so
attempts to treat them as such are going to come across as foreign.
Migratory birds never suddenly shift their course in order to fit with a
predetermined set of beliefs. Two, Papua New Guinea has spent decades
torn by civil war and ethnic hatred, so a mindset of peace and stability
will seem foreign and strange. And three, capitalism is an
extraordinarily powerful idea: If corruption is Papua New Guinea's glass
ceiling, then capitalism is certainly its flowerpot.
When I was in Papua New Guinea last Summer, I was amazed by
the variety of the local cuisine, and that tells me two things. It tells
me that the citizens of Papua New Guinea have no shortage of courage,
and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that
people in Papua New Guinea are just like people anywhere else on this
flat earth of ours.
So what should we do about the chaos in Papua New Guinea?
Well, it's easier to start with what we should not do. We should not let
seemingly endless frustrations cause the people of Papua New Guinea to
doubt their chance at progress. Beyond that, we need to be careful to
nurture the seeds of democratic ideals. The opportunity is there, but I
worry that the path to moderation is so strewn with obstacles that Papua
New Guinea will have to move down it very slowly. And of course Port
Moresby needs to come to terms with its own history.
Speaking with a young student from the unpopular Protestant
community here, I asked him if there was any message that he wanted me
to carry back home with me. He pondered for a second, and then smiled
and said, nama es tubo, which is a local saying that means roughly, "If a son is uneducated, his dad is to blame."
I don't know what Papua New Guinea will be like a few years
from now, but I do know that it will probably look very different from
the country we see now, even if it remains true to its basic cultural
heritage. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people
still haven't lost sight of their dreams.
This article was not really written by Thomas Friedman and this site is a spoof of the New York Times. This generator was created by Brian Mayer with content from Michael Ward, used with permission