Conversation Class

So I teach a conversation class on Friday mornings at 7am (I know who schedules a conversation class at 7am, let alone a conversation class at 7am on Friday mornings?). Usually it goes well as I let the class decide what we will talk about, then I split them into groups so they can practice their English. Then I have them tell me what their groups talked about. This allows them more chances for speaking because when I conduct the class without splitting them into groups, only a few of them talk. Sure, conversation includes listening, but it also includes talking, and what is the point of having a conversation class if they are just going to listen to me and a few other students speak?

Anyway, today they had no ideas for conversation, so I had to come up with some. Going with a thought in a previous post, I asked them what they thought about the missile shield. They had some thoughts, though they were hesitant to share/develop them, and I was not surprised by their answer: they feel that they (and most Czech people they know) are against the system, but that it doesn’t matter because the government is not listening to them. One of the students, Milos, said that even if they created a petition and got lots of people to sign it, the Czech government still wouldn’t care and that they would say something like, this is government business and does not concern the people. Another student made an interesting statement at this point: it does concern the people because they are the ones who will suffer if anything happens. They expanded on this idea by saying, if something were to happen, people think that Poland would be the first place attacked because that is where the missiles are, but in reality it would be the CZ that is attacked first because those missiles won’t be able to funtion properly without the radar system (which is to be placed in the CZ). Also, they expressed dislike for the idea that the US and not NATO would be in charge of the missiles.

I found these statements to be quite telling for a couple of reasons. One, it seems more and more that the Czech people are not too keen on the idea of the radar system but their government, as well as the US government, is ignoring their displeasure. This is yet another example of a so-called democratic government going against the will of its people, which leads me to the second reason I found this discussion compelling: governments for the people seldom are for the people, but rather for the governing officials. The CZ is a republic, though their elections truly are matters of majority (they have no equivalent of the Electoral College) and yet their government is ignoring them. The similarities between the Czech government and the recent US government is astounding to me in this respect. Many Americans, maybe not quite the majority but close, were against the Iraq war and the financial bailout, and yet both things came to pass. This of course begs the question: is there really any such thing as a democratic (republic) government that puts the interest of the people first?

More and more it seems to me that there is not, but I am curious to hear my readers’ thoughts (all three or four of you who regularly read this silly blog along with those few who stop by on accident) on this issue.

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