Just read the recent Time Magazine article about Mr. Clemens and began wondering what he would have done with the Internet and would he have been a blogger? Well, sure he would have, in spades, would be my guess. A man who made a fortune on writing and then lost it all trying to develop a writing "machine" would have gone nuts over the machine I'm now using to write this. Sometimes I pity those poor writers who were born and who died too early to witness the mind-boggling, culture-warping technological advances of the past 20 years.
But never mind technology. Reading the article was a reminder of the great old adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Twain was aghast at the same things we need to be aghast at: racism, greed, imperialism, and arrogant, murderous religiosity. The technology changes but the dark workings of human nature continue unabated. The world was as much of a mess in 1900 as it is today.
So, here's a suggestion that Twain might support. He was, like myself, a great traveler who spent much time abroad. He said that nothing inoculates against racism like traveling and as racism is caused by small-mindedness and small-mindedness is caused by lack of exposure to the wider world of possibilities, the government should stop the wars it has going and spend equal amounts of money on sending each an every American overseas for a while. How long? Well, each of us would be required to live with a foreign family, eat their food, and learn to speak their language more or less fluently before would be allowed to return home.
And you don't get to pick where you go. The Committee on the Foreign Placement of U.S. Citizens for Purposes of Expanding Their Minds To Wipe Out Ignorance and Narrow Mindedness would decide that. We might send someone like Rush Limbaugh to Nepal say, to live in a yurt and learn to love Yak milk. I'd like to see that. And he'd be allowed to speak only Nepalese. That would shut him up for a while. And Ann Coulter? Where would we send dear gentle Ann? I'll have to think about that and make a recommendation to the Committee.
Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal (http://bit.ly/1mMT6ZC). The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1j3axVk) and Crossquarter.com. Visit the author's website: douglasarvidson.com