Friday, May 1, 2009

Distorted View of Importance

The following was originally part of an email to a friend, but after typing in a trance for ten minutes, I blinked and realized what I typed no longer made sense in her email. I decided to put it here instead. She was talking about how we were blowing the Swine Flu epidemic out of proportion when there's other diseases that kill more per year and have been around longer. I agree with her, but that started me off on a tangent that after reading it I was like, "this has nothing to do with what she was talking about." Still, I like what I was saying. So I'm putting it here in hopes that someday I'll find a better place to use it.

Oh I completely agree with you that here in America we have a very distorted view of what's important. For example, so many people want to give to charities that help children starving on the other side of the planet, but we have a homeless problem here in America that needs to be addressed more fervently. The problem is appearances. A crazy guy in his forties wearing rags doesn't illicit the same kind of concern and sympathy as a toothless crying baby in Tanzania with flies buzzing around her. However, that baby probably has a better support system around her than the poor old man does. I personally have a slightly more vested interest in the crazy guy in his forties, cuz take away my home and my car and my job and my paycheck, and that's all I am. A crazy middle-aged guy in rags. It is selfish selflessness that makes me think we here in America have a very distorted view of what's important.

I'm beginning to think a worldwide refocus of priorities is necessary. I just wish if we ever get that New World Order crap that some want and others fear, that THAT is what would be addressed. It's SO not. I guess that makes me one of the ones who doesn't want the NWO. Cuz I don't trust human beings. However, what we NEED as humanity is not either socialism or capitalism but what some may incorrectly perceive as a bit of both.

Some things need to be addressed in the common market. I used to think EVERYTHING needed to be addressed through capitalism. However, without a redistribution of wealth, eventually everything goes topheavy somewhere, and that develops caste systems based on economic well-being. When you corner the market on something, you don't easily let go of your grip. It's king of the hill. The toughest kid's gonna eventually take a stand and the only way to keep the possession of that hill from turning into a dictatorship of the playground, is if the rest of the playground bands together. There's some things we shouldn't have to fight over. Everyone deserves a piece of that hill. No one should be dismissed from the playground.

Every human being on this planet should be given Universal Rights. Those rights are built around necessities for physical and psychological well being. The right to live, to be happy, and to be unrestrained. This won't happen, but this is what we need and so long as we don't assure this for every single member of society, we're a worthless species.

I'd like for us to at least start with a Universal Agreement to food, drink, shelter, and function. All humans should be allowed to exist unencumbered by worries over those basic four things. That way, when it comes to combating in the marketplace for everything else, we all start on an equal level. Everyone needs shelter. Not everyone needs an entertainment center. However, not everyone can buy what you want to sell, if we don't all have a place to keep it. So it benefits capitalism, if all consumers' most basic needs are managed outside of capitalism.

If a charity isn't focusing on one of those big four, preferably in the community that a philanthropist is using his money, then that philanthropist needs to seriously reconsider how and why he is spending charity funds on something more frivolous outside his own neighborhood.

The problem with my mindset here is that some believe it to be unamerican. I know it. Which is why we'll never see it happen. One cannot force their will upon others. Well... you can, but no one's gonna invite you to parties if you do that. Unless of course you force them to invite you to their parties. No, the answer is not coercion or force, but education. We're not well-enough informed to make wise decisions about how to improve our community or our world.

The way I see it, most people look at the argument of capitalism vs socialism as if it were an either/or situation. It's not. One can have socialized medicine, but leave other things open to the marketplace. That's not unamerican. That's making sure all Americans can function - can have their inalienable rights of life, liberty, and happiness without being encumbered by the weight of oppressive poverty and starvation and ill-health.

A person watches a commercial on TV that tells them about how horrible it is on the other side of the world for poor children and that person's heart reaches out to them. We all want to be the one to save their lives and make the world a better place. However, that commercial only tells one side of the story. We don't see what's behind that camera - only what the camera wants us to see.

Why doesn't the camera man give the kid a Snickers bar? Why are those children in poverty? Who is causing this? How can they be stopped? Or is there more to the story that leads one to believe a sack of rice is not going to solve the problem, but getting world leaders to settle their differences and focus on what's really important, WILL solve the problem? Provided those bastards can get their heads out of their asses long enough to realize what they've been doing all these years is precisely what's making those kids starve.

A person doesn't get to see commercials on TV about the poverty and starvation happening right under their noses, sometimes just a few houses down from their own. Nobody makes those commercials, cuz there's no money in it.

Maybe it feels better to anonymously give a few dollars a week to war torn provinces on the other side of the planet than it does to cook a homemade meal for people shuddering in the cold wind on the other side of town. How does that help us though? How does helping someone in India help me in America? I'm never even gonna meet that guy over there. Ideally it'd be great to help everyone everywhere on the planet, but shouldn't we start closer to home, and then help others elsewhere after our own home is in order?

But who am I to talk right? I don't frequent homeless shelters. I don't give, cuz I don't have a lot. I don't even know how to cook. I sure don't put my money where my mouth is, but then I don't have a lot of money. I'm constantly reminded that I'm often a paycheck away from being one of those middle aged men in rags wandering the street corners panhandling. Maybe my problem is I don't watch TV commercials about Indonesia or Ethiopia. I'm too frighteningly close to the images staring me back in the face.

This is about when I blinked out of my reverie and my own breath got caught in my throat. I tell you what, if I actually had any money to give, I'd probably start here with the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. So if what I just typed affected you at all, please send them a little something if you can afford it. Or better yet, find the homeless shelter in your area, give to them, and tell them Zach sent you. So maybe when everything is stripped from me, and all I am is a crazy person without a roof over my head, I'll have a place to go. And you to thank.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very moving post, over here in the uk we get a lot of those ad's all together on tv: homeless dogs, abused kids, starving kids in the thrid world areas, rescued animals and others i cant even think of. they all have sob stories that make me feel guilty yet i cant afford to give the £2 a week every ad asks for but i have to agree that theres a lot of ads for other countries, and i agree that yes we need to help but maybe we should help our own country as well, i cant claim to give lots to charity but i do frequent a lot of charity shops and donate items for them to sell on although its not really the same. however the people who stop me on the street to sign up to give donations tend to tell me that i cant do it until im 21 but i know even then i cant afford to give and i do feel guilty about my lifestyle when i see those ads and pictures on tv yet i know because of how i was brought up i couldnt easily give up the things ive become accostumed to and that feeds the guilt sending me round and round in circles for a short timea and then i have to admit it possibly like most people it dosent enter my mind until the next time im bombarded with it.