Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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What's the point in all this screaming? No one's listening anyway

I was struck this morning, while reading the New York Times, with the realization of just how different people's lives are. On two sides of one page of the paper were a story about a woman living in New York who struggles each day to scrape together enough money to send back to her family and suffers the heartbreak of having her daughters complain about her not being there for them back in Peru, and a series of cartoons about "opposites attracting" in New York which featured "wry" commentary on things like the differences between upper westsiders and upper eastsiders and the concept of a soulless marriage between two lawyers.

It shocked me. That whoever did the layout for the paper did not see that as an inappropriate or at least strange pair of articles to put so close to one another. I mean it's a clear and obvious statement about the stratification of society and the world. Of the differences between the haves and the have nots and the ENTIRELY different set of prioriteis that each group has to deal with. One of my greatest fears is that I would get so involved in some sort of professional success that I would lose contact with my base humanity, with the fact that although Mills argues that Socrates can enjoy more pleasure than others due to his superior intelligence, nobody has the right to deny another person's pain. And yet people lose track of that all the time. Do the frat boys worry about the living conditions of the people who brew their beer let alone those who grow the barley on other continents? I know I'm privaledged, I know that the ability to just mope around and feel sorry for ones self is a LUXURY and I know that the whole "Do I want to be a lawyer, do I want to try to force my way through med school to be a psychiatrist or do I want to just go the PhD route" debate is the type of mental masturbation that requires a lot of green lubrication in the form of dollar bills. But I take some comfort in the fact that I try my best to treat other human beings (Kawah and Jing excepted of course) the best I can and with as much respect as I can muster depending on what I know about them. (I play around with my doorman and tease him etc because he's in school to be a programmer and at least making an attempt at doing something while I don't have much to say to the homeless man who hangs around outside the supermarket pestering people for cash and not seeming to do much of anything out)

It shocks me then when I can read a JOKE about two lawyers having a marriage of convenience while playing with people's lives in the courtroom and making barrels of money right next to an article about a mother seperated from her kids and trying to get a job so she can send them enough money for electricity and hot water. What do those two existances have in common? How can so many people make life into a pleasure game when there are so many people who never even make it to the sidelines?

I know that my life and living situations are unusual for someone of my means and talents, but at least they enable me to feel somewhat real, and give me the knowledge that if I ever DO succeed in any real way I will have tasted failure and the bottom, which is a comfort. Because from where I sit, a happy life of conspicuous consumption and lip service towards good causes isn't worth spit. As long as society has so many have nots, whatever the haves have is...meaningless.
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