Thursday Morning Burn

This morning I was scrambling around to get ready between sips of coffee and trying to clean my room (we're having some friends over tonight and it's my night to cook = scary), and as soon as I was done with the iron, in my haste to unplug it quickly, I accidentally whacked the side of my hand smack dab onto the hottest part of the iron, almost knocking the iron over. After yelping syllables like a wounded animal a few times - since the pain wouldn't allow my vocal chords to form words like, "FUCK!" or "BLIMEY!” - I noticed how much it stung, as though I was being punished for failing to respect the heat. Burns like this feel like one big bee sting. It still hurts. But not enough to prevent me from typing about topics I am not smart enough to write about, like how...

I think there's going to be a civil war in Iraq. I hate to say it, and I really hope I'm wrong, but all these assassinations and insurgent bombings (happens every goddamn day) are just signs pointing to the inevitable. The elections are ill-fated, because obviously the Shiites are going to get all the power, the Kurds are just be happy to be alive and no longer genocide-bait, and the Sunnis will be pissed enough about the shifting balance of power that they're naturally going to keep fucking shit up and killing innocent people. I remember reading a story right when Bush first spun his WMD theory and threw our soldiers into the fire...the author (some kind of Iraq expert...forgot his name and credentials but he sure knew his shit) basically had this theory that Iraq really needs to be split into three separate countries, each getting a fair square footage of land proportionate to population, each country electing its own leaders, and so on. This makes a lot of sense now, given the way the usurping of Saddam has played out. I know the argument against this theory is something like, "That's crazy. Would you want to have a Union and a Confederacy today in America?" Well, that's why this is a theory. It's simply a recommendation, a plan that could never come into action under our current corporate leadership. But in response to the argument, obviously, the current state of Iraq is a different ballgame than the US cicra. 1863 (oh, really?). If you want to know why, don't ask me - I don't pretend to be an expert...ask my dad (Civil War buff) and the guy who formulated this theory. Anyway, I was going to write more pompous, pretentious banter on this subject, but I just got interrupted with some urgent work task, and now I've forgotten what I was going to say. Too bad...but last time I checked, they're not paying me to write.

Hendrick Hertzberg is fucking brilliant. If you haven't heard of him, he writes the commentary for the New Yorker most weeks. Last night I read his "Flood Tide" comments on the tsunami relief effort. In his opening paragraph he ran off a list of death tolls from unfortunate events like the Congo civil war (four million), the Darfur genocide in Sudan (70,000), and other wars and massacres in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Iraq...also including the worldwide casualties of malaria (two million), hunger (five million, and that's just children), and AIDS (three million)...and Hertzberg made a point that by sheer proportion, the international relief garnered by the victims of the December 26th Indian Ocean tsunami (I think they're now at about 140,000, plus injuries and destroyed communities) has been gigantic, almost questionably so. Even though the victims of the tsunami deserve 100% of the aid they receive, the way America keeps upping the ante for this particular catastrophe stinks of PR-op. If it were possible for any charitable effort can be classified as hype, this would be it, and for all the wrong reasons. Bush initially pledged $15 million three days after the wave had hit, and then, upon hearing criticism about stinginess, he increased America's contribution to $350 million. That's still significantly less than Australia and Germany, but Bush continued pushing for further support from private donations, calling upon dear old dad and dear old horny immoral predecessor to rally the generosity of our Great Country and Even Greater Corporations (even though they are his real collective daddy after November 2). Perhaps since the global animosity towards the most powerful nation on earth is growing with each word Bush spits incoherently out of his bully pulpit, he must feel that it's important for his legacy-in-the-making to give in to the peer pressure...because who wants to be the President who pledged a measly $15 million to help tsunami victims AND the President who defied the UN and invaded Iraq under false pretenses, AND, unless I'm (hopefully) proved wrong, causing a civil war?

Contrary to where you might think I'm going with this, Hertzberg doesn't dispute providing this much relief to tsunami victims, and neither do I. They need every penny they can get out of Uncle Sam. But he makes an interesting point. Hyper-sympathetic dollars are pouring in for this particular natural disaster while the everyday natural disasters like hunger and AIDS are all but ignored. Maybe it's because we can sort of empathize...imagine the fear of a gigantic wave coming right at you, crushing everything you own to pieces, murdering friends and family, forcing you to start all over again. Yes, that's scary. But imagine not having any food to eat when you're supposedly a growing kid. Imagine that your immune system is shut off, you're continuously sick, there are no good drugs around, and your kids are probably going to grow up without you. Yeah, I know. "That's depressing," is usually the response. The magnitude of such empathy is so depressing that we may choose not to think about it, especially since we know it happens every day, in a land far, far away from our comforting material obsessions. Like nobility in the Middle Ages couldn’t relate to the hardships of the serfs, we can’t relate to all things “depressing." Our consciences are so consumed by consumption that we don’t even try. Instead, we live in America. We’re Americans. We buy magazines filled with lies and self-indulgence. We constantly think about how we can stop overeating and lose weight and become as stick-thin as one of those kids in Africa, so we can fulfill our twisted cultural ideal for whatever attention-seeking reason. We can afford to be picky with our drugs…really picky. Not only that, but some of us throw away as much as two hundred dollars (or more, last I checked, the price had escalated) a day to support a habit. We can afford to spend millions on political campaigns and inaugural balls and still sleep at night. We can afford to be ignorant. We don't apologize. This is our ideology. This is our comfort zone. But should we get bogged down with the delusion that we are a righteous, humanitarian, generous nation, we should fucking forget it, throw any remnant guilt out the window, stop being so depressing, and keep complaining about taxes, keep spitting out our so-called miserable lives to strangers who cost upwards of $250 / hour. I don’t know about you, America, but I feel lucky, selfish, and bad every day. I made a wrong turn into your corporate bullshit a couple years ago, and now I’m a crisis of conscience, ready to burst and pop your fucked up balloon, making sure everyone can see the improvements you desperately need to make. I want you to look in a mirror and not be so depressed about AIDS or world hunger, and be more depressed by your reflection. It’s so sickening; I can’t even bear to look at myself, let alone you.


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