That Which Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Wish We Were Dead...sometimes aka; My Life at “Opportunity” Village
There is a point we all reach at varied times in our lives, when observing the behaviors of others, where we just have to sit back and take a breath and allow the shock to wear off. The way people treat one another can be one of the most disappointing and sad things to contemplate in one’s lifetime. If you’re surrounded by a large concentration of the type of people that make you wish for the apocalypse, it can make you lose any hope for humanity you ever previously had. I live in just such a place.
Awhile back I wrote a piece about the China study debate. Obviously, it brought up dietary choice and current food trends but it also transformed, even as I wrote it, into a piece about agendas and agenda pushing. I have been an avid activist against Monsanto for over 25 years now and I have seen agenda pushing on both sides of the debate, in fact it’s one of the few debates that really only has two sides, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room there, at least on the surface. When an issue appears to have only two sides the result is often that there is a strong desire on both of those sides to assign blame. General human nature dictates that most folks would rather point the finger at one giant monster than at the multitude of points of view that make up the issue. I mention this because the comments I got from my piece about the China Study Debate created just such a monster, The Americans.
In a very general sense there are three main areas of life to keep balanced so that it can be ever more full and satisfying; the Physical, the Mental and the Spiritual. Manifestations of these three aspects of life are discussed by everyone from the Buddhist to the Bahá'í and in various religions from Christianity to Confucianism. While there is more to "it" than meets the eye most would agree that everything from the marvelous to the mundane falls into one of these three aspects of life. The beauty of these three aspects is that everything we need to keep them in balance, everything we need to live fully and completely, is provided for us. None of it needs to be purchased, none of it is difficult to locate or hard to get to, in point of fact, it is so easy that it has become overly complicated.
There is more to my own experience with free speech than just that I am constantly exercising my right to it, frequently much to the chagrin of those who would rather not hear what I have to say. I have been "detained" for exercising that right on more occasions than I care to discuss and was once maced and brought to the ground by police for doing so. Of course that is nothing compared with the people who have died for exercising that right or ensuring it for others. Thank goodness for the internet, surely a safe haven where one can speak their mind without the worry of pepper spray wielding police officers or being taken to jail on their whims. Unfortunately, the way in which freedom of speech has translated on the World Wide Web has become somewhat of a joke. Without accountability it seems folks are bored with speaking their minds and discussing their ideas, instead they argue over petty issues and do so using the same rules and mannerisms one might see on a playground.
My job is to poison people. I don’t make a lot of money doing it, just over minimum wage, but I started at minimum wage. It took a while before I got the raise; I had to poison people for 90 days first. It isn’t hard, people line up for it. I don’t have to go to them, they come to me and most of them are people who come every single day. They often times have a pattern, they come in at the same time every morning and they know exactly what kind of poison they want. We put it on display; make it easy for them to see. The ones who make the poison make it in pretty colors and give it names to make it sound good for you but it never is. I don't understand why they keep coming, day in and day out. Perhaps they are just in denial. Perhaps they just don’t care. Perhaps they are looking for something else but the poison is easy to come by and hell, everyone else is doing it. Maybe there is something missing in their lives. Maybe they crave companionship and need that feeling of belonging and being with others at the store helps. Interactions may be brief in that line but at least they get to chill with folks who also want to poison themselves. I don't know...I just work here.
Recently I watched a video; it was one of those exposé films about factory farming. Much of what I saw were the typical images one sees every time, piles of carcasses, beaks being burned off, animals being flayed while hanging upside down and bleeding out, kicking because they're only mostly dead. Images that are shocking to be sure but those weren’t the images that stuck with me the most after the particular video I watched. Despite how disturbing the more typical imagery was, the video I watched also had a section depicting the farmers acting despicably. To be clear from the beginning, I am not suggesting in any way whatsoever that ALL farmers are like the ones depicted so let's not get our knickers in a twist. If anything, my hope is that what is depicted is the exception and NOT the rule. That being said, the farmers depicted in the video were ridiculous, it was as though they were living out their favorite Hitler fantasies only instead of Jews they had farm animals.
Some time ago, my car broke down. I was gratified to discover that there are still kind people in the world, a man who works at a local gas station offered to tow it, at no cost, back to my house. Another offered to look at it and maybe even fix it. Meanwhile, I was a pedestrian yet again and one with a job to get to that was a two hour walk and unsafe by bicycle. I came to the conclusion that hitch-hiking might be my only option. I have a history with hitch-hiking, it has gotten me very far. Some folks told me it was unsafe but I had always felt safe. My instincts aren’t too shabby and if I feel a ride might not be safe I simply don’t take it. Still, the way people were reacting had me thinking about how safe the world is, or not.
It’s the Christmas season and as per usual, I tend toward letting it come and go just like any other day. Generally, this is a simple task. I don’t have cable so I’m not inundated with media urging me to spend excessive amounts of money on things I don’t really need. I’m not religious in the traditional sense so there are no religio-spriritual hang ups to deal with and my 14 year old child is blessedly unencumbered with the ludicrous notion that presents will be magically brought to her by advent fairies and fat jolly men who travel via chimney even into homes that have no chimney’s. Still, I’m not totally cut off from the world. Every year my small town lights the tree in the square and most of the town shows up to cheer the event on and discuss sales and how much they plan to spend. There is a couple that dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the town makes merry, it’s quaint but tired and put on.
At this point nearly everyone has visited a website where there are forums, a place to chat, to talk about your ideas and interpretations of an ever widening array of topics. The inherent anonymity of the internet provides a place where you can really let loose and be yourself. On the other hand, you can do what the other half does and be the polar opposite of yourself. You can make it all up if you feel compelled to do so and no one would be the wiser, most of the time. On the internet, no matter who you are or are pretending to be you can say exactly what’s on your mind and if people disagree, no harm done. In fact, if people don’t like what you’re saying all you need do is log off. This all sounds great, it’s freedom of speech at its finest, right? There is privacy and at the same time freedom to speak your mind in a more honest way than you ever could face to face.
Silence is Golden...who said that? In the real world it seems silence is becoming a real problem. People just don't communicate enough, they're forgetting how to talk to each other and all indications point to that getting much, much worse. My own preference is for the expression, "Communication is key." I think often about the distance people create from others with their silence. More problems in relationships are caused by lack of communication than anything else. What frightens people? Is it accountability? Fear of being wrong? Perhaps it is an assumptive fear of confrontation that results in communication being avoided altogether. I don't know, what I do know is that one medium where people do seem able to speak their mind is on the internet in formats where accountability and being wrong don't really come into play. Nor do being sensitive, having any degree of self respect or any consideration for others whatsoever.