My LibriVox recordings & my reading journal (solo Litblog).

World War Z notes; Home Front USA chapter 1

World War Z

Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.

Part5, Home Front USA; Chapter 1, Arthur Sinclair, Junior

During the war, Mister Sinclair was director of the U.S. government’s newly formed DeStRes, or Department of Strategic Resources.

DeStRes, it’s job was to find those people who had the skills and talent to help maintain the survival of the refugees. Stock brokers, politicians, bankers; all these kinds of job descriptions were of little use any more. Arthur had to find people who were plumbers, bricklayers, bicycle menders. Practical skills. Those people who had been fixing their own household appliances to save what little money they had, rather than getting someone in to do it for them like the rich, power-playing folk do. Used to do, they are the ones learning these essential life-skills now. Even if they don’t want to.
Some of these former power-players have found new job satisfaction in their new average employment. There’s a lot to be said for the “I did that” factor. A natural rush, a self-satisfied pride that is deserved.

Arthur’s job was not made very easy though. He explains about his father and how he wished he had listened to him while he was living. His father, having lived through the FDR period of World War II, had these life-skills. Knowledge is the real power in this world but so few seek to attain it, it’s easier to just rest on one’s laurels, so to speak. One of my favourite phrases – “Knowledge is like manure, it’s of little value unless you spread it around”. Most of the world’s knowledge is also aimed at the left brain way of thinking. The right brain of thinking is when we get creative with out problems.
Creativeness, inventiveness; these are skills that most have forgotten how to use.

“Necessity, who is the mother of invention” – Plato, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 BC – 347 BC).

For Arthur this phrase is most true, he pools his human resources with relative intelligence. Deals with people who are stubborn & short-sighted with insight & patience.
Even he is surprised from where some of those great ideas have come from. For example, old myths about the jar-head marines; dispelled by some smart recycling & creativity.

Not that I’m saying his new job role was easy. Easy couldn’t be further from the truth. He also had to deal with sorting these people into different categories, depending on their level of usable skills & create a re-training program for those with, essentially, no skills. Deal with the millions of refugees in camps spread all over the mountains and coastline, the inherent problems that accompany such mass camps, like disease & starvation. Despair.
Then there is the racial & social bigotry to contend with,
in most countries there is at least some class-ism. High class, middle class, lower class who are sometimes referred to as working class. A high-ranking stock broker would probably never even talk to the person who cleans his/her office, it’s just not done. Now imagine this cleaning person being your new teacher, there’s bound to be a few people who feel degraded by this role reversal. Or even contempt, fury even.

All of this had to be accomplished quickly or the refugees would be doomed. Arthur had the fun job of having to learn new skills himself, since he did not listen to his father, he relied on the written word. A new book under his pillow every night. Must have been rough going on him, but it seems he relished his new vocation and even though he admits to making mistakes, he has learned from them. An important lesson in itself.
He mentions the time when Travis D’Ambrosia became chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He had in Travis, someone whom he could trust, someone whose opinion was thoughtful. Who could provide an insight Arthur himself could not see. I hope there are many people like that, with the re-training programme there ought to be more Travis’s and Arthur’s walking around.

Author: raven

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