Misreceived Generosity Blues

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it

As we come here
Believing that we want nothing but to be regarded as one of you
That we expect nothing but to be met with the spirit in which we come
We step into the white spots of our map of human behaviour
Without knowing that we may be moving utterly out of our depth
We of societies of the surplus to be honest
We of societies in which trust protects you
In which the neglect to build walls around you isn’t fatal
Easy targets as long as we refuse to believe in the evil of mankind
Ready to die to prove the cynicism of others wrong
Though we do not know it yet
We of societies of the richness to have ideologies
Of the social security to be ignorant of the depths of desperation

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it

As we come here
Believing that we want nothing but to be regarded as one of you
That we expect nothing but to be met with the spirit in which we come
In the search for adventures of the kind that only exist in fairy tales
Being ready to have our horizons broadened by acts of real beauty
Being utterly unprepared for the lessons that Africa has to teach
Too spoiled perhaps to understand that intruders aren’t necessarily welcome
Too full of misgiven generosity to know that our well-intended gifts
May land on infertile ground
Ground that may not be ready to receive the seeds which we come to sow
Ground that may not want to change its nature enough to make our un-asked for gifts useful
Ground that may think that the price of becoming something else is too much to pay
For the crumbs from the hands of people looking for a meaning with their own lives

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it

As we come here
Believing that we want nothing but to be regarded as one of you
That we expect nothing but to be met with the spirit in which we come
We step into the white spots of our map of our own behaviour, unknowingly perhaps
Ready to love a foreign continent because of what we imagine it to be
A love made easier by the distance and the briefness of touch
And its indifference to the ways of foreigners, its labyrinths of readily offered myths about itself
We may not even notice the gaps between what we come to find and what we’re given
As students cannot ask the teacher to teach only comfortably familiar facts
We cannot chose the wisdom that Africa deigns to bestow on those willing to listen
We may learn to protect ourselves, but only if we’re willing to see the gaps
If we’re ready to accept that gaps between human beings can only be bridged
By the willingness to build bridges from both sides

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it

As we come here
Believing that we want nothing but to be regarded as one of you
That we expect nothing but to be met with the spirit in which we come
Forgetting our instincts of the profundity of knowledge of our own purpose
Grasping at imagined straws of the neediness of the fabled continent
We step into a world which is still only rising from the bloodied swamps of raw survival
Armed only with the desire to get away from the boring orderedness of our own existence
Or the anarchist mess of half-heartedness and lukewarm half-promises that we think is ours alone
Looking for unfiltered feelings of something which is bigger than ourselves we are left unprotected
From the dishonourable intensions of others to whom we present irresistible opportunities
Of making something better that what could be expected of their lives
The desire to live an adventure of love and trust and unutterable human beauty can kill
It can kill hearts and spirits and souls and end your life if you jump in too soon

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it

As we come here
Believing that we want nothing but to be regarded as one of you
That we expect nothing but to be met with the spirit in which we come
That we’re looking for nothing but friendship and enlightenment and gratitude
For meeting a need for willing hands
Utterly unprepared for the true meaning of foreignness of attitude and customs
Thinking that everybody does everything almost as we do, unconsciously perhaps
Without irreconcilable discrepancies between expectations of the nature of human relations
Without differences that are threatening rather than cute and interesting and refreshing
Utterly unprepared for the shadows of the societies that we enter
The scars, the pitfalls, the pain and the areas of growth and unrest and change
Thinking that you can trust what seems to be happening on the surface blindly is dangerous
It may take a lifetime to learn how to see the reality beneath your own ideas of how things are

A hand stretched out in friendship
Is midways between giving and receiving
A word spoken in friendship
Is midways between confiding and believing
It leaves you naked
Don’t abuse it
Too much disappointment in others make you lose it