Sunday, July 14, 2002

Well, Gosford Park was good. It was slow, but once stuff happened, it was good. And when it was all over, I had enjoyed it. Then I promptly brushed my teeth and went to sleep, because it was nearly 2am.

As for my various rants against the US and its people...well.....need you really ask? look around!

1. The government consistently thinks of itself (and only itself, which is another story entirely..moving on with the sentence now...) as the best thing ever invented and can't understand why everyone else on the earth doesn't think the same.

2. As a country, we consistently act as if we were the only people on earth and things we do don't make a difference to anyone else. For example: we refuse to enforce global standards on pollution. Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, if we would curb our emissions and depletion of the ozone layer and do our part to stop global warming, that people in Africa would be living now instead of dying because there's a famine, brought on by drought, which is likely a direct result of the rising temperature on earth? ponder that for a while--every minute you drive your car which has emissions that are too high (or, if you live in a place with good public transit: every time you drive your car) you are killing a child or parent in Africa. Yet we do nothing.

3. We are the wealthiest nation on earth, with a crapload of natural resources, an economy stronger than 80% of the world, and material STUFF up the wazoo. Our GNP is equal to that of about 15 African countries combined. And yet we can't find it in our hearts to support debt cancellation, to send food to hungry people in Africa, to supply HIV/AIDS treatments to the millions of people around the world who have the disease, pay for or help construct infrastructure that would bring clean water to people who have no access to water in their villages in central africa...etc. And why? because the governments of "those" countries aren't like ours. They must be corrupt. Because they were corrupt fifty years ago. And if they are still corrupt, why aren't we just sending people to DO it instead of sending money that ends up in the hands of guerillas? If we sent people to work and live and whatever...perhaps we would ALSO create some cross-cultural understanding. Oh wait, see numbers 1 and 2.

4. Not interested in the plight of those on the other side of the globe? how about closer to home. In spite of the facts mentioned in the first sentence of number 3 above, there are still people IN THIS COUNTRY who do not have running water in their homes. 6% of the homes of Alaska have no running water. 2% each in Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia. There are still people IN THIS COUNTRY who don't have homes. There are people IN THIS COUNTRY who are hungry. There are people IN THIS COUNTRY who have been "phased off" public assistance because their allotted time is up--but who don't have skills to get jobs that will feed them or clothe their children. There are people still on TANF who are working but not making money because they don't have skills. Get this: if you are a two-parent family (say a family of 4, 2 parents 2 kids), you are required to have both parents working. Which means you have to pay for child care. Not all states have a child care allowance--and those that do have very small ones. So you are getting assistance (a little), you have jobs that likely don't pay well because schooling/training/etc are not considered "work activities" in most states--so you have to take minimum wage jobs because that GED class or that tech school doesn't count, and you will lose your assistance if you do that instead of work. Sound like a problem to you?

5. Materialism. when faced with a choice between doing something for someone else and buying something new--which would you choose? if you had $35, would you donate it to a charity/put it in the offering plate or buy a few new CDs to add to your 100+ collection? think about how you use your resources (time, money, etc) and budget all of them, giving consideration to other people and yourself.

6. Still need more reasons to dislike the US? see below about the international war crimes tribunal. or find in the archives (<-- over there)..a couple of weeks ago my rant about racial profiling in the war against terrorism (date 5 June) and how we all seem to think that a) muslim = terrorist, that b) "middle eastern looking" = muslim = terrorist, and that c) WASP American citizen = perfect. Whatever.

7. As for when i'll be getting out of here, two things.
a) as soon as possible. but not before:
b) I am able to try to do something about all of this. Does it do any good whatsoever to complain about life being bad and not do anything about it? no. what can you do? for starters: THINK GLOBALLY. When you do something, buy something, say something, vote, etc--think about the implications for other people, not just you. Planning to drive the three blocks to work in your old car? Remember the famine in africa. Planning to buy a $10 shirt at gap (if such a thing exists)? Remember that it cost them 50 cents to make because children in sweatshops in indonesia made it for you. etc. Then, ACT LOCALLY. Volunteer feeding the homeless. volunteer with habitat for humanity. write your representatives in government. buy fair trade products. don't drive if you don't have to...walk, ride a bike, take public transportation, etc. don't support companies with unethical business practices. (here are just a few: nestle (the big one), coca-cola, gap) get out there and make a difference. greenpeace, world wildlife fund, nature conservancy, homeless shelters, soup kitches, food banks, free clinics of various kinds, orphanages...these places are in need of people! If you aren't inclined in this way, what about doing something to help people? volunteer to read to kids, to tutor, to sit with the elderly, to be a friend to those who don't have friends or family left. and, of course, pray. in the end, "without the Lord in our work, our labor is in vain." But remember: "as often as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me." Every time you do something for someone else, work for change, or even consciously choose not to buy something or patronize a particular store for any of these or other reasons, that is in itself a prayer. work and prayer are one--and good works are one of the more "instant gratification" types of prayer.
c) i know there were just two things, but now there are three. In addition to acting locally, you can act globally. go on a mission trip. Participate in a "time on" project in another country. go somewhere and do good. there are HUNDREDS of opportunities like this. In addition to helping people in a lasting way, you are creating a bond with people, a cross cultural experience that is invaluable not only for you but for the people you are with. This understanding and experience is one of the most effective ways to foster global community.

need ideas for projects both near and far? try this.

While I'm not saying that these are necessarily uniquely american problems, they seem to be disproportionate here. (hence the reason other governments are often annoyed with us, and why people in other countries so often find americans annoying and stereoptype us to be so...because they encounter exactly that!) There are of course people who do good, those who disagree with the stance often taken by the government...these are the people that we need to be a little more like perhaps. It's good to stand by your country, etc, but not to the point where that is more important than the lives of other people and the life of creation.

ok, i'm done with that. for now. i think i need to go read a book for a bit.

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