01 May 2008

Indulgence by Proxy

I should probably preface this by saying that I don't intend to downplay the plight of poor nations. I should probably say something about the value of altruistic behavior. I should probably even say that I sympathize with the starving peoples of Africa, with the war-torn nations of the Middle East, with the oppressed majorities of Asia.

But I won't do any of those things.

What is this force that drives nations like our own to overextend themselves in the global community? Our own national debt rises as the economy crumbles beneath us; homes are being taken out from under the people who lived in them and resold as rental properties to cater to the slightly-less-desperate Americans who've managed to scrape together the funds to be able to afford the ballooning costs of living, and still we're focused on the global good, the humanitarian principles of serving our fellow man? Droughts and food shortages plague our own neighborhoods as the dejected starve in the streets, looking for someone to lend that same hand that's been chopped off and mailed to Darfur where things are obviously so much worse as to eclipse our own slow descent into the third world.

Faltering markets are pushed aside by rising consumption of useless consumer goods, and we're still trying to convince ourselves that buying a $600 video game system is better for the environment than our hybrid cars with their lowered carbon emissions and aesthetic appeal taken straight from the runway models who look as rail-thin as the cocaine they shove up their nostrils to support the drug lords funded by our own dollars in decades past, now forgotten until their disenfranchised slave-labor forces are found drowning like rats in the oceans between us and them as they seek rabidly to find the wealth that's promised by the images in the media of the final consumers of their own products, and still the best we can do to fight against anything is ship billions more dollars overseas to try to feed the world's growing population while we bicker about whether a black guy, or a woman could fill the captain's cabin.

It makes me sick to call myself an American sometimes, but I still call myself by this term with pride not because I think it's something to be proud of, but because the label bears a sense of difference and distinction promoted by our own advertising campaigns which fall flat on the ears of the global community, who is only now beginning to think that JUST MAYBE the average person over here is just as tired of the way our society tears shambles across the landscape of human history, ravenous to devour any legacy we might have once held close in order to shed a new light on the life and times of every single person, exemplified in the celebrity cries to turn off the cameras, give peace a chance, and free Tibet at the cost of our own self-indulgent suffering.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, the only reason things won't change is because we've all decided long ago that fatalism is the way of truth, that manifest destiny has us beholden to nothing more than screaming silent whispers through online posts, empty promises for a Brave New World, and lip-service funeral processions for the way things Should Have Been; they'll never get there, of course, because we all believe that none of us can change all of us, that no ONE man can make a difference despite evidence to the contrary, and even those few who've figured out that the change CAN be made are self-restrictive to the point of being wholly ineffective, shadows of the great men of the past who, in their time, were radicals and outcasts that have been painted in new light by the lens of the passage of time.

When history writes of this era, who will our heroes have been?

1 comment:

Ben said...

I think your right, people want a change. Look at Obama, his key running point is that he is different.

Our country finds more ways to throw away its money. A lot of that aid though is diplomatic aid, international pork barreling. People forget there is great cruelty out there and that aid buys some liberty from that cruelty, both domestically and for the countries that receive the aid.

I think when you consider why we give so much away, don't assume its out of Uncle Sam's good nature. Good Nature isn't a part of politics unfortunately.