Before I go any further, I would like to send some heartfelt "fuck you's" to the hollow, stargazing fucks in my life who have decided that it is better to write someone off than stay honest with them. This bird is for you.
That out of the way, back to contemplation - I've been here over four years. I've gotten to know quite a number of people, carved a niche for myself, and had a halfway decent time doing it (most of the time). I never intended to stay here as long as I have. I never intended on a lot of things. Overall, pretty much every aspect of my life has gone through major flip flops in the past presidential term, and the job is the only thing that has stayed bedrock. Now I am changing it.
One of the hardest decisions about moving on was the people I am leaving behind. My boss, my friends on the day-to-day, the personal connections within the job. I still feel like I am leaving people holding a kicking bag. I know it is the best thing for me professionally, and that long term there will be no arguing with the decision, but it still keeps me spinning sometimes.
I have had my life changed by where I am now. I hope that I, in turn, have made changes in others. I hope that the energy I have poured into other aspects of my life, largely funded by my efforts here, have not been in vain. I hope that I can find focus in my new responsibilities, because without it, I fear the future, for the first time in years.
Enough philosophical blather. I am going to get some ranting in. This is going to piss some people off seriously, but you know what, consider yourself warned.
The fallout from the tsunami is horrible. It underlines all the aspects of our world, culture, and society that I find reprehensible, but, at the same time, supports my slim hopes. No matter the hubris of progress, we are still nothing but ants in the face of a mild fist shake by the planet we live on. People, individuals, really do care about the suffering caused in the wake of such an event. They want to make a difference, give of themselves (financially or in terms of time) to try and ease that suffering.
I can't stand the marketing response. I can't stand the daily news spending front page coverage on some supermodel who managed to survive the wave. Somehow, she is important because she showed her tits through spandex to 100k+ potentially paying customers? Her husband is important because he took those pictures? Give me a motherfucking break. They are a cheap thread in a tapestry of pain and suffering, yet somehow they deserve top billing? The first response of many of the scientific-esque reports I have read on this, intended to inform the non-geologically/oceanographically inclined John Q. Public are fucking scary. Not because they detail a wave the likes of which a post-industrial society has never had to face before, but because they spend time explaining how it would be different if it took place here. The whole disaster, somehow, needs to be framed in the perspective of the American mind view, and the signifigance this event could have on our coastal future! The death toll overseas is Hitleresque numbers, and I bring him into this to make a point.
Eddie Izzard has a great bit about mass murder in one of his routines. He claims (and rightly so, I believe) that there comes a point in the human comprehension of the world around us where statistical death overwhelms out ability to comprehend it. Once that number crosses a threshold beyond the total number of people a person could get to know in their lifetime, it becomes meaningless, in a horrible/awesome way. This disaster is that way - the effects of it are so convoludingly twisted that if you ponder them too heavily, you'll find yourself unable to extract yourself from the quagmire.
The root of the matter though, is that it is a natural disaster.
I don't believe in gods. I don't believe in karma. I don't believe in gaia.
I wonder if this might not be nature's way of slapping our species on the wrist for a couple centuries of steady rape and plunder. I just wish nature had better aim, because most of the people killed by this are not the rapists. The rapists are not going to take this as a warning.
The marketed response has me gagging. As the individual, here, in this country, what can you do in the wake of neigh-incomprehensible pain and suffering half a world away, in the context of cultures who you have little/no concept about. We are left reeling. Who comes to the rescue?
Our guiding uncles, the corporations. They offer to match hat-passes, they link to charities off their online stores, they make you feel,as an individual, like you can make a difference. The reality is, if you are donating money, you are making a difference to someone somewhere, but not directly. You are making a difference with a taint - unless the motherfucking corporate charter or CEO is a noteworthy charitable entity, the money is, in part, a corporate a tax break. Regardless of the firsthand financial benefit to a corporation, you are paying for free PR. You know in a few months, that you are going to hear how many millions Apple, Coke, GM, or Sprint helped raise in the wake of the horror.
By then though, the media will have desensitized us by pounding the same video clips and images into our heads over and over. We will not have to wake up to the stink of mass graves, or to the realization that perhaps 80% of everyone you ever knew and loved is dead. What will be remembered is that link between the corporate logo, and how they helped you, as the individual, feel like you made a difference in the face of overwhelming horror.
This is where I am glad I had upbringing as a Christian. You want to make a motherfucking difference? You want to make lives better in the face of suffering? Give up your shit, and move into the slums, with a bowl to beg in, hands to wash or dig, and a robe to keep yourself decent. Face the demons firsthand. Christians believe in that shit, or claim to, in tenet. Sure, becoming a Fransiscan or following the footsteps of Mother Theresa is "a bit extreme" for most people. Could you imagine what the fuck we could accomplish if people lived that ideal as the rule instead of the exception?
Big charities, the ones with the most muscle to hit the street running in the wake of disasters like this, have, in the past, proved their inability to be straight with the common man, looking to give up a smoke or a beer, and slush that cash towards someone whose entire family is dead because his house is just a muddy hole in the ground. You may give to an entity that helps, but they help themselves first.
Yes, there are people, and charities, who want to make a direct difference. No, I am not saying do not donate. I already have myself. Just wake the fuck up about WHO you give WHAT to.
Scope http://www.benjaminrosenbaum.com/blog/archives/2004_12.html#000151 Read up on what to give to who. Feel with your heart, but give with your head, if you are just going to give cash to make the difference.
A nameless entity which lives on human suffering for profit, using a nearly incomprehensible moment of human trauma as a free PR campaign in order to come across as "more humane" makes me wish that wave had been spawned off the Mid-Atlantic shelf, instead of the motherfucking Pacific. Then we wouldn't be spending as much on the inauguration as we are sending to help people. It is NOT our responsibility to send aid over shores. it is the humanitarian thing to do - the right thing to do. But our government is not run by humanitarians. We need to send that money over there to protect our interests, our long term financial goals, and, most of all, to throw some PR in the pot when the world more or less would love to see us erased.
If the places in the news were DC, Baltimore, New York, Boston, and Charleston, instead of Trincomalee, Chennai, Andaman and Nicobar, how many more people would see the folly?
I wonder how long it will be before the cause of the earthquake is tied to one of the Axis of Evil?
I'm getting sarcastic. That is a bad sign. I'm done.