Friday, January 15, 2010

cruisin' for a brusin'

Upon hearing news of Haiti's earthquake, and literally feeling the waves from its after shock on a cruise boat I've been playing on, I got to thinking deeply about socioeconomic issues on a global scale, and how I fit into that arena personally. The situation in Haiti is obviously devastating, and of course,all of the major media channels are running what appears to be a 24 hour spiel on every detail of its aftermath. Of course, it is important to be aware, but I can't help but feel of course, that as one might expect, American media is again, just trying to make a buck. And I also think about all of the people on this cruise ship: tourists wearing floral t shirts, drinking cheap beer and listening to cheesy blues music they can "shake their thing" to, trying desperately to leave their cares behind. They are the ones who upon arrival at various caribbean ports, proceed to engulf themselves with a practically "disney-fied" version of some faint idea of what the caribbean actually is. All the while, there is a truly third world culture literally blocks away, that no one cares to see. I wish that I could articulate all of the things that go through my head when I confront these issues . For instance, I feel like the slightly intense waves that our cruise boat felt analogously represent how outsiders, particularly Americans, are affected by Haiti's disaster. They watch the news for a while, truly feel sad, and wish they could do something, but eventually forget about it, because ultimately its depressing and their world around them has to take over. There is no one to blame for this... it is a cultural norm that has established itself over decades, perhaps centuries of social evolution. But this kind of cultural disparity can be looked at on an even deeper level, in which we see such intense alienation between third and first world cultures: again, the example of cruise ship ports and the vicinity of sub cultures that exist within them. And to further my angst about all of this, I am a white male from a privileged culture, wanting desperately to respect, and ultimately connect, with another culture so far removed from his "likeness." I wish people could look past my exterior and see that I actually care about them, that I don't judge them or think less of them because they are dark, or poor, or desperate. And believe me, people do. You can't tell me that a lot of first world cultures (again, America seems to come to mind) have a population of people who feel in some way superior to other individuals because their culture is more "civilized" or "wealthy". What they don't realize is that none of these people really have much to do with any of that. So much of how these cultures evolve is based on a web of complexities, including human behavior.... ultimately that one of the human's species major weaknesses: the idea that power and money (which can be perceived as the same thing) are of upmost importance, and are worth so much as to sacrifice the quality of life for millions of people. It is indeed self-preservation taken to the next level: self-aggrandizement and thus: selfishness in its truest sense. Anyway, the point of the matter is: I feel angst. And the problem is, I understand why it is happening, and I also understand that the angst really isn't necessary, and that ultimately I can't do anything about it. But I also realize that I am in a unique position, with potentially unique feelings and experiences in this regard, and that maybe my thoughts and feelings on the matter could actually be of some value to others. All I know is that these thought are with me constantly. Thankfully I I have learned over the past few years to come to terms with a lot of them, and realize that my happiness cannot be at their mercy. But, again. I wonder if I can offer up my perspective and open someone's mind, even just a little. Why does it matter you may ask. And I would say, I don't know. Because, when you break anything down long enough you find yourself in a nihilistic state of depression, and lets face it, that is no way to live. So instead, I am planning to explore these issues further, for whatever good they may reap. It is something I feel strongly about, and have had enough experiences with to feel confident in expressing my ideas. We shall see where it takes me. At the very least, I will grow as an individual, and connect more deeply to the world around me. Isn't that what we are all looking for anyway? Thanks for listening.


jcox3000 said...

I appreciate your perspective. Although, you said that everything gets nihilistic if you break it down far enough and I hope that that isn't true. Since we don't have a tv in my apartment, my information about the earthquake has been very limited although I heard a tentative death count the other day on the radio... Why is it that these types of disasters (and I'm also thinking of the tsunami and also Katrina) happen to hit really poor areas? I guess much of the world is poor, but it just seems a bit unfair. Of course, I imagine if it seems unfair it is just because we really don't know what the fuck is going on and have to understand things at the simple level our thinking currently operates at.

courtenay said...
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courtenay said...

The majority of the world is poor because of our selfishness as a country, as a civilization, as an empire, and as a way of thinking about the world. Westernism, modernism, americanism, capatialism, whatever the hell you want to call it, is killing the world. Before too long there will be eathquakes everwhere. Including kansas. Take that america!