Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thoughts of a Not-So-Desperate Housewife

Oh, what has happened to me? Here I was today sitting listening to "Fresh Air" on NPR, driving in my SUV, with my two kids in their car seats in the back, donating money to various causes that make it easy and convenient to do so and not giving a bit of my time or effort to actually change anything outside of my little world that I profess to care about. I am exactly what I railed against only 10, maybe 15 years ago. Does some part of me now feel a little of that "middle class guilt" I never before understood? The "middle class guilt" that I resented as a young "poor" kid, that I thought was demeaning and useless, that I thought led people to donate rhetoric and money, but never their personal time and effort to make it better. Just a minute, let me finish texting "Haiti." OK, done.

Or, maybe it's just that I realize as hard as it was growing up, there are so many in the world that have it so much harder and, so, a lot of the bitterness has dissipated. Perhaps, I now understand just how lucky I am to have been born an American. I never slept on a cement floor in a straw hut, without infrastructure for electricity or water, nor without an opportunity for an education or a way to better my life beyond my parents' place in life. So many in the world lack basic foundations of living, they lack opportunity for class mobility, for education, for so many things. And, they are surrounded by deep, embedded corruption that teaches "take advantage of what and who you can, when you can, because everyone else around you is doing it and if you don't, then there will be nothing left for you or your family." It's an attitude I absolutely abhor, but after living in too many countries where "democracy" is a title bantered about without real meaning, where oligarchy would really be the better description, I do have a slight understanding of why they've given in to it.

Perhaps I get frustrated and feel overwhelmed by my inability to do anything that would actually make a difference or at my lack of desire to do anything except, perhaps, just enjoy my little slice of life in the world for a while. Perhaps I'm just thinking too much. What's that, my turn for Wii Mario Cart? OK, gotta go.

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