Nicaragua. I’m astonished at the turn of events that has wracked the country I have come to know over the past 13 years. I read about places where I have traveled, remember fondly the warmth of the people I have met, recall the beauty and awe of the land, and then must imagine those same images against a backdrop of grief and gangs, barricades and bullets, hatred and horrors. I am saddened, but only feel a fraction of the despair that my Nica friends must be experiencing. Indeed, I cannot begin to comprehend what Nicas are going through in this time of upheaval.
The context raises the inevitable questions that accompany every instance of political unrest: how could this have happened? Can there be, in fact, any reasonable understanding of what has led to the unraveling of an entire society and system?
They are questions that I have found myself asking about circumstances in the U.S., though understandably in a different context. There are significant differences, but many similarities: a society that is fractured; an overriding unwillingness on both sides of the divide to talk of compromise; massive protests against the government; claims of government abuse of power; calls for the removal of a sitting president; alienation of other nations by virtue of nationalistic postures. The list goes on, and so does my wondering.
In the shadow of the current impasse being experienced in Nicaragua, the Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) at Augsburg University is offering a “virtual course” on the crisis there, designed to delve into the competing historical narratives each side uses. The analysis will allow participants to assess the validity of their application today, and deepen an understanding of the perspective of each side. For anyone who loves Nicaragua, who has been enriched by the place and its people, it can be a course of immense clarification and understanding.
But in addition to gaining a better understanding of the crisis in Nicaragua, my own hope is that it might provide me with some insights into the dysfunction which currently grips the U.S. I do not require reminders about how enormously different our respective histories and developments have been; I know them well (as well as some of the intersections between us which figure into the Nica problems significantly). But I have moved within the two cultures significantly enough over recent years to have acquired a perspective which asks whether many of the same factors might have been at work in each.
I’m interested in the CGEE course about current Nicaragua in and of itself, to help me understand what has happened in that beautiful place, and why. But I also have a secondary motive, which is to find some further insights about what has happened in this beautiful place, and why.
I guess I feel like I owe it to someone….