The world feels like a broken sink. Like some sort of pit half full of murky water, overflowing with stacks upon stacks and piles upon piles of dirty dishes. The sink doesn’t need the dishes, but the dishes undoubtedly need the sink. And there’s no way of moving any of the dishes without something toppling over and crashing, setting off a chain reaction of more topples and more crashes. While the sink may not care about what happens to the fate of the dishes, the dishes definitely affect the quality of the sink’s existence, especially as they continue to multiply and collect as they have been for so long. But how are you supposed to fix the broken sink when you can’t even get through to all of the dishes? And how are you supposed to fix the sink when you can’t move the dishes? The dishes have made themselves the sink’s unwitting ball and chain and the two are inextricably tied. There is much to organize, much to sift through, and many processes that need to be constructed and then carried out proficiently in order for anything to change without lots of unnecessary destruction, but you can’t do it alone and you can’t always get willing participants to help with such a big mess.
To start, global warming and the consequent climate change resulting from it has begun inflicting its noticeable damage. A prime example of this is how we’re now beginning to see the first climate change refugees, such as the residents of Isle de Jean Charles, LA, many of whom have recently been forced to leave their homes on the island because of the rising sea level. Beyond this, over the last few years temperatures more notably continue to rise higher than normal and drop lower than normal in places where such activity is unprecedented, and as a result there have been significant numbers of intense snow storms, tornadoes, droughts, fires and floods. Interestingly enough, the political climates everywhere on earth and those in our country seem to mirror the increasing severity of this weather – both bearing extremes that continue to drastically polarize – and the growing state of social discontent and civil unrest resulting from all of it is alarming.
All the while all across the nation we push forward in a post-recession economy that is destroying once meaningful relics of the past, proclaiming that this New Wave of Corporatism can tear down the old system to form something new and promising: a modified and improved version of the former world, this time run by Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and fast food chain vending machines, the success of which will continue to widen the income disparity gap we’ve been watching steadily increase over the last two decades. As this happens, those of us old enough to remember the world before the Tech Boom – when no one had smartphones (or even cellphones) – are made by many to feel foolish for, albeit nostalgically, but not unjustifiably so, yearning for a time when we could navigate our social circles and cities without first needing to use a website. And those of us that hold on to a need for familiarity and believe we need to at least moderately preserve the past are now labeled as incapable and unappreciative of change.
Then of course there is Donald Trump – a textbook psychopath/sad excuse of a man who has declared bankruptcy multiple times who, even when putting his blatantly racist/xenophobic diatribes aside, clearly has no respect for anyone – who is now the GOP candidate to be the potential future leader of the United States. The implications of this run deep and I don’t have the time or will to expound upon that. If you can’t understand what is wrong with this fact than I will absolutely state that you are part of the problem and it doesn’t bother me if that makes you upset. The only thing I can conjure up to say aside from what I already have is that his widespread popularity has rendered me nearly speechless and makes me incredibly apprehensive of what is potentially in store for the United States whether he wins the election or not.
Furthermore, the issues surrounding the outcome of the recent rape trial from the assault at Stanford University also leaves me wondering what the hell is wrong with our society. Which is essentially a rhetorical statement as I do mostly know what’s wrong with it, but I can’t understand why we hold so tightly to all the false illusions causing the ignorance and pride fostering this sort of behavior. Knowing what we know and having the access that we do to so much information, it baffles me that rather than evolving, we are clearly regressing. If we weren’t regressing, than we would not still have climate change deniers, Donald Trump wouldn’t be the GOP nominee for president, rape wouldn’t be excused in consideration of the feelings and future of the perpetrator, abortion rights wouldn’t be threatened in practically half the states of this country, income disparities between men and women wouldn’t be so vast and I wouldn’t derogatorily be called a Social Justice Warrior for noticing and stating these facts. Believe me, I’m not a SJW in the context in which most people use it. I’m consistently moderate enough in most fields that I make both wings of the political bird angry at me fairly often. So for every one of you that might think I’m a “crybaby” liberal, there is a liberal extremist that thinks I’m an uncaring, insensitive, narrow-minded asshole. Which I do feel is another prime example of the ever increasing polarization of ideals caused by our primarily binary political system.
The issues surrounding civil rights in the US are also overwhelmingly regressive. It pains me so much that racism is still this rampant and that as the days go on the more closet case bigots out themselves as the pieces of trash they really are. I have long said that racism never went anywhere after the Civil Rights Movement, it was only swept under the rug because people learned that it wasn’t “acceptable” to be so openly bigoted. After being under that rug for such a long time, now that people like Trump have made it acceptable again to be openly ignorant and derogatory, racism is reemerging into the light and proving itself to be a lot more ugly after spending so many years covered up, festering in the dark. Regarding the aforementioned Stanford sexual assault situation, the fact that a white male convicted of a crime can get basically “off the hook” with a six month sentence – lowered from six years initially – in jail while innocent black teenagers are shot and killed for no legitimate reason yet again paints the picture of so much that is wrong. Then the fact that I can’t even be a white woman and address racism without also being accused of “white guilt” also makes me want to projectile vomit pea soup on everyone’s face. The fact that I was once accused of “white guilt” when I had gotten upset by a Donald Trump supporter really bothered me and only furthers my disillusionment. You can be white, be aware of the injustices (past and present) acted against people of color and be angry about it. I don’t feel bad about it as if it’s my fault, I simply feel bad in a sense that there feels like there is so little I can do to change it. I personally do what I can in being the change I wish to see in my own daily life, but I wish I could do more. That isn’t being a liberal fascist hypocrite. That’s called being a human trying to look out for other humans. Plain and simple. But that’s how I feel about all injustices in the world towards any human being regardless of what they look like. And in the end, when a racist is receiving enough overwhelming support to possibly become the leader of the country in which you live, it makes sense to me to be upset with the very people granting him that potential power. Beyond the race issue, this is also as a woman. And John Lennon, being a misogynist himself, knew as well as the rest of us that “Woman is the Nigger of the World”. And that right there is an absolute statement.
All the while the poor become more poor as the middle class dwindles. But we’re expected to stay strong, to remain quietly resilient, to not just accept but embrace our hardships as if they will get us somewhere, somehow, some day. But as we are expected to be this way, it still remains so rare to be poor and underprivileged and actually have these factors be an advantage in any sort of tangible way in the long-run. And furthermore, in addition to the sensation of failure so commonly felt by the masses, instead of standing together in solidarity, so many of us fight against each other and bicker about insignificant things. Television has long been a form of opium for the masses and those that watch TV begin to view fancy homes and expensive cars as the ultimate sign of success. They also begin to emulate the drama they see and somehow think that’s the way life is and should be. So they focus on material things while treating one another like shit. Speaking of the poor fighting against one another, I also feel a need to address the fact that in reality I’m not that far away from being homeless myself. I live paycheck to paycheck, I don’t have much in savings. I’m fortunate to have a job that I actually don’t mind and don’t foresee losing, but under other circumstances it would be hard to say. There are so many failing businesses and people getting laid off all of the time that job security does seem to be a lot more rare now. Plus, anyone in Seattle knows that affordable rent here is certainly a distant memory. Every day, when I exit my home I emerge into downtown Seattle, I can feel anger and rage, both verbal and implied, directed towards me by some of the down-and-out and homeless people in the area. And the whole time I keep wanting to say, “I’m not the one you should be angry at”. I have had a few conversations with a few people about this, but I primarily keep it to myself because usually saying something only furthers the vicious cycle of the “Who knows best” fight that we’ve all gotten so good at fighting.
During all of this I also can’t leave my house without being surrounded by drunks, crackheads and junkies – all simply displaced, alone, unstable, disconnected and severely misunderstood – filling their voids in the most self-destructive way possible. If they had homes, I’m sure they would choose watching TV to fill the void instead, much like the average American who watches four hours of the stuff on a daily basis. And as I walk down the street through the sea of substance abuse induced zombie people, I’m cat-called incessantly and then told by way too many people that I shouldn’t be bothered by this unwanted attention. Or I run into aggressive pan handlers that make me feel threatened or I get stuck next to loud people arguing, telling each other to “shut the fuck up”… “no you shut the fuck up” literally on repeat, while I look around and see parents treating their children like shit or completely ignoring them altogether as if they don’t even exist, all while the legally insane yell profanities to their faceless demons and religious zealots stand on the corner telling me how much God loves me… all this in one walk to work.
Are we intended to simply move through life and not just bear, but welcome, the inevitable pain of our existence? Are we so convinced that we can find happiness and are so set on the mission that we blind ourselves to the reality that life was never meant to be joyful, but suffering instead, and in our quest for the bliss we feel entitled to we only intensify the discomfort of our inherently harrowing reality by fooling ourselves it could somehow be different? And if not, what is to blame? Is it simply human nature, capitalism, a combination of both as a symbiotic monster multiplying like cancerous cells, eventually growing itself into oblivion? Are we intended to never really know the truth? Because it seems to me most people don’t know the truth about much of anything regardless of science or in spite of science, and even science contradicts itself regularly. Even in not knowing the truth, people still convince themselves that they do know what is fact and what is “right” and so opinions snowball and intensify and fights ensue because despite being wrong, most people don’t seem to think they are, thus perpetuating some seriously vicious cycles of hate, ignorance and intolerance. And finally, in our general inability to accept the inevitability of our own pain, perhaps it is that which decreases the ability to empathize, it diminishes the capacity for compassion, and this tacked on to the strange societal conditioning towards solipsistic reasoning is what perpetuates the lies we need to believe in order to feel justified, validated and consequently to feel as if we’re living meaningful lives? “Meaning” has always been the driving force of the actions of man, particularly as we are the only creatures alive that seem to need it and is this which is the only real facet of our existence delineating us from the rest of the animal world.
In this era of technology, in this age of instant gratification, in a time where everyone has the impression they can have whatever they want whenever they want, we do seem to be terribly disillusioned, uncertain, disheartened and alone. This is so drastically opposite of all the glory we’re supposedly meant to be experiencing if our modern world is so tremendously impressive and wonderful, isn’t it? “Disillusioned, uncertain, disheartened and alone” are additionally adjectives quite similar to the ones I used previously to describe addicts. Yet while staring these traits in the face we are still taught and expected to believe that this is the best way and time to be alive, and that we are living testaments to the triumph and progress of mankind and our intellectual advancements. How are we really supposed to feel accomplished, superior and proud? We’ve essentially been reduced to animals in cages, glued to screens, stuck constantly battling ourselves because we’re not supposed to like who we are, though paradoxically we’re supposed to value our opinion above all else and we’re certainly not supposed to like who anyone else is either, especially if they have an opinion that differs from our own. While we are supposed to feel so strongly about our opinions, we’re also discouraged from furthering our educations and thinking for ourselves by applying what we know to the information we’re provided in contrast to our experiences (i.e. developing critical thinking skills). And the more we’re removed from the thousands of years of our evolution that came before the last 70 years of all this “progress”, the more mental illness seems to prevail. What else can be expected when as a species we went from growing our own food and burying our families to living in solitude, buying lots of processed food we had no part in growing or preparing, and spending thousands of dollars on consumer products for self-improvement (most of which don’t work, especially not permanently). We spend so much time sitting indoors, we think liking someone’s facebook post is equivalent to spending real face time, we treat dating like shopping for clothes. All of this in/action emphasizes the recurrent theme of our strive for perfection and our sense of loneliness. The irony of this being that our idea of perfection is the antithesis of anything practical, as is our isolation, provided that most people are so imperfect in the context of survival skills that most couldn’t survive in the wilderness while actually alone for more than a few days. Beyond the absence of our skills to survive without technology, I continue to fail to see how the world we’re living in has improved. Growing up I had always thought the trade-off to having to work less to not just survive but thrive was that we could then have the time to focus on improving the quality of our limited time on this earth. With all this technology, with all this information, with all the access we have to one another, surely we would be able to put an end to things like terrorism, racism, misogyny, bigotry, to mass shootings and things like the slaughter of 50 people in a gay club in Orlando, FL. But it hasn’t happened. Oh sure, I’m not a complete and total Luddite, so this is not to say I don’t see the benefits of technology. I simply mean to say that it is easy to see where we’ve gone wrong and how difficult it is to simultaneously be human and be rational, level-headed and responsible with the way in which we choose to use our inventions. Because while there are undoubtedly advantages to having technology, it is also seriously misused and abused and sometimes when it forms a path of least resistance, that path is taken too often and as a detriment to real progress and evolution. As one of my favorite writers, Georges Bataille, once said, “It is not necessity but its contrary, luxury, that presents living matter and mankind with their fundamental problems”. That statement may very well be one of the most accurate sociological hypotheses of the 20th Century.
I have had three near-death experiences. One of those experiences absolutely would have resulted in death were it not for technology and science. I’m not going to elaborate on that topic too much as I do have unrelated thoughts on the matter, but I refer to these experiences now specifically to make it clear that I know what I could have lost if I had died. I view the world in a way where I wake up every day and know that our time here is limited and I appreciate everything I can to the fullest. The flip side of that is it has made it difficult for me to understand why so many other people can’t see the bigger picture. Because even before I had these accidents, I’ve been keenly aware of my own mortality and as a result I’ve long had a difficult time understanding the rampant selfishness that is reflected all over the place. My actual brushes with death only exacerbated the confusion. I of course bear witness to unreasonable behavior in the headlines of the news, but hell, I even see it in the subtleties of daily life. I witness it in details as small as the fact that dozens upon dozens of people won’t even budge for other people while walking down the sidewalk; they would rather shoulder check you then be aware of your mutual space and politely swerve ever so slightly to avoid a potential collision. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why people are so stubborn, so selfish, so entitled, or why they use each other the way they do. I don’t understand not being aware that you could die any day and that your life on this planet is better spent trying to be kind to others and loving the people in your life as best as you can while you can. Because in addition to the tragedies consistently making the headlines, so many of us are losing people we know, care about and love. So it isn’t even just about you and the fact that you’re going to die. A lot of what I’m saying here also revolves around the fact that people in your life will also die, many of which will before you.
I firmly believe that we do have the power to make the world a better place, but it seems most people don’t know how to wield that power despite it being one which we all possess within ourselves. Life is too short to spend worrying about the small stuff, to spend fighting about trivial garbage, but I don’t know that most people will ever fully comprehend that. A tragic human condition that has repeated throughout our history into the present is that we seem to wait until things get extraordinarily, nearly irreparably, awful before we try to change what’s been done. I just can’t tell if it’s because people don’t see it or if they’re denying it or what. Whatever the cause and the case, I hope it’s something we learn to identify so that we can start making the necessary changes we need before circumstances become overly, unreasonably dire.
I will never claim to be more enlightened than anyone, but I proudly own that I am prone to observing, reading and thinking about things a lot. But I’m also highly introspective, so I cannot and will not ever pretend to know everything because I recognize that I am not perfect. I know I have my faults, but I also choose not to accept them as permanent and I do what I can to fix these things. I write because I often have the need to process my thoughts, experiences and observations and that’s really all this is. It often seems to me that most of the time when I express my opinion my thoughts are misinterpreted and in that I seem to have a strikingly strange propensity towards upsetting people with my opinions. Most of the time my thoughts sincerely come from a place of seeking to understand the world around me better and then mindfully express what I’ve gathered in a manner that isn’t intended as expressly accusatory. I do sometimes write abstractly, I imply a lot and I frequently make allusions to things many folks are unaware of and so frequently I find myself frustrated by not being understood the way I had hoped to be. So if you’re reading this and any of this is making you upset with me on a personal level, I want you to stop for a moment and realize that I do not speak in absolutes unless I state that I am. If I’m not stating an absolute, that means I’m making a generalized statement, which is that and that alone. Generalized, meaning “in general” but “not always”. Most things are subject to change. In this, I’m also open to the fact that as I grow as a person sometimes my views may change and because of this I also take into consideration that if I change, so too might this world we live in that makes me, and clearly many others, feel so uneasy at the moment. But for now, as it stands, the world continues to feel like a broken sink. I will hope that maybe we can arrange the dishes in a way that won’t make them all topple over in a dynamo effect fashion so that we can clear a path, fix the sink and clean the damn dishes already. But for now it seems like a tremendously daunting, overwhelming task that may very well become catastrophically worse before we are able to see any improvement.