I was reading an article on mass executions in Iran, and realised with a little shock that I tend to forget how reality is in other countries.
I lived there, but I forgot. I saw Kosovo from inside and from peacekeeper perspective, I lived and worked in Afghanistan, I've been to Darfur. I experienced Ghana. I saw Georgia in a troubled times with eyes wide open. I know the difficulties that people face around the world because I work on those issues. Because I keep myself informed. Because I care.
and still, life in the United States lulls you into a strange state of mind. I have to get out of here!!! with so much navel-glancing around here, even when WORKING on world affairs one tends to get lost in shopping and attractions, in brunch places and excellent food, in a thousand cultural events and books and movies and plays and operas. One starts paying attention to fashion, enjoys shopping (I turned from a rather male shopping-for-practical-purpose into shopping-is-relaxing-and-fun person - unbelievable to me, but true). I've done and explored so many things and enjoyed myself fully, from sports to meeting people to do new things such as taking helicopter lessons.
and over all this excitement, over watching Deadwood and The Wire and Mad Men and Six Feet Under and going to the gym on daily base, having a personal trainer and a personal masseur who does home visits - shit, I was just leading a fabulous life.
don't get me wrong. I love it. but, reading this article mentioned above (and it could have been any other), it just hit me. maybe the Obama cult has to do with it. as diverse and fascinating as New York is, it is too close to the United States ;-)
all the excitement here makes it so easy to forget how real life in majority of places on this planet looks like, and even if you do follow a range of media incl. Stratfor and even if you try to think for yourself and question things, you end up following the mainstream to a certain extent - another pathetic sheep running in the crowd. thinking that our economic problems with restaurants only half full during restaurant week actually are really important and rightfully top of the agenda.
thing is, it just sucks not allow yourself to take an extreme stance to things. it would be so much more easy to think black and white. it is a difficult balance, taking seriously the problems of the admittedly squeezed middle class, and not being that annoying bitch putting everything into "be glad you have a roof over your head" perspective and therefore just plainly annoy people who do face problems... real problems. but then again, some of the problems stem from their feeling to be entitled to so much - probably after having been spoilt for living in brillant conditions so long... or wanting to be spoilt because this wish is created by consumer society here... media playing with greed and egoism and envy and making people forget about what Obama calls the "old and true values".
economic troubles in the West undoubtedly will have a severe impact on developing countries and humanitarian aid - and while governments/people have not been overly generous in good times, having financial troubles sadly might not lead to more understanding followed by more sharing either. this means, yes, restaurant week with empty restaurants is a symptom of a problem that needs to be top of the agenda.
ah, the difficult balance between self-flagellation and hedonism!