Thursday, July 24, 2014

First world problems and my humanity

I haven't been a ball of fire lately.  My wife and I are feeling the fatigue that having viral bronchitis brought. And it has been raining just about every day. The rain started again this morning, coming down in sheets. Rainy days are relaxing. I didn't have anything that had to be done, although I did spend time reading and preparing for a course on sailing that I am teaching in September. And I took a nap in the afternoon, Tonight, my wife and I cooked dinner together. So it was a pleasant and generally relaxing day.

I am leaving to go on the boat tomorrow for a few days. It won't matter that the forecast calls for more rain.  If it rains, I will hunker down and read.  If the rain stops, I'll go for a long walk on the beach.  I don't think that I have had many bad days out on the water.

We are entering the dog days of summer now with humidity through the roof. Mushrooms are sprouting up in the yard.  And by tomorrow, the mile long dirt road leading to the tarmac will be nearly impassable. All my problems are definitely first world ones. Sometimes I feel awkward even writing about my life when there are so many that are suffering terribly all around the world and, shamefully, in this country that has so much.

I have friends whose worst problem is that their driveway at their second home didn't get paved on the day that they wanted it to be.  I know others who speak of the children coming into the U.S. from Central America as vermin and lice infested "illegals".   How is this possible?  When did the insensitivity to others and their plight happen?  Have we become so entitled that we don't see the ridiculousness in our complaints?

I know at one time, we were all innocent and trusting.  Sometime in this lifetime, people that I thought I knew became filled with hatred, bigotry and disgust towards others. And yet, many have animals that they profess to love. When did people lose their compassion for other human beings? Even if I find my own species to be difficult, pugilistic and destructive, I would not think of another person as vermin or not worthy of living.

We all have a story. And our lives are shaped by so many things. I can't begin to know what it feels like to wake up hungry each day, to not have enough water, to try to avoid being captured and killed, or bombed without warning. As I go about my day,  I will do my best to remember that I am one of the fortunate ones who hasn't lost my ability to help others or to care about what happens to people whose daily struggles are unimaginable. Thankfully, I still have my humanity.

“We're so self-important. So arrogant. Everybody's going to save something now. Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save the snails. And the supreme arrogance? Save the planet! Are these people kidding? Save the planet? We don't even know how to take care of ourselves; we haven't learned how to care for one another. We're gonna save the fuckin' planet? . . . And, by the way, there's nothing wrong with the planet in the first place. The planet is fine. The people are fucked! Compared with the people, the planet is doin' great. It's been here over four billion years . . . The planet isn't goin' anywhere, folks. We are! We're goin' away. Pack your shit, we're goin' away. And we won't leave much of a trace. Thank God for that. Nothing left. Maybe a little Styrofoam. The planet will be here, and we'll be gone. Another failed mutation; another closed-end biological mistake.” ― George Carlin

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV


  1. Absolutely beautiful.
    Enjoy your time on the water. Rest. Accept the weather as it comes. As I know you will.

  2. I want to take those bigots back in time to when their ancestors came to America and let them see for themselves the struggle and problems they had. Maybe they would change their tune, then. Jerks. Arrogant jerks. And my extended family are some of them! UGH.

  3. Powerful, beautiful post Syd. Thank you so much for sharing this. It truly was exactly what I needed to hear today.

  4. Thank you Syd, thank you. A fine piec of writing that deserves to be read by so many more.

    Hate to be presumptuous but I can feel thank you's are coming from those you mention without a voice.

    Relax on the boat and never lose your consciousness of humanity. That is your soul.

  5. Love George Carlin ...he took so many risks with his audience, challenging us to look at ourselves. The styrofoam reference brought a smile and laugh..
    Glad to read your post today!

  6. I often think about how lucky I am that I was born here and not in a war-torn or food-scarce country. Thank you for the reminder that humanity is something we should foster.

  7. Great post, Syd. There are many times I have been so grateful I was born in the Third World and especially in Africa because living here and experiencing the generosity and compassion of others who are poor and knowing people who don't think of themselves as victims punches the First World nonsense out of you.

  8. Hi Syd. Every generation has a name, you know the Greatest generation that fought world war II, then us the Baby Boomers and then Gen X, Y, the forgotten generation.

    I have been thinking about the callousness especially birthed and developed in our generaton and I wonder if our divisions are hold overs from the Great ones, problems that never got resolved because starting with Gandhi, Sadat, JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, RFK, Medgar Evers and so many more who were in the on deck circle to lead the conversations necessary we murdered them all.

    I don't think our humanity has ever recovered from that and we have become more vile and vicious, not just in the US but every where. And for what? To gather wealth and profit for the one thing Eisenhower the leader of the greatest generation warned us of Profit through the marriage of industry and military.

    Just suppose JFK had not been murdered, do you think he would have stood idly by as 5/6ths of the population degraded the 1/6th that went off to war? But it became acceptable behavior and it's been downhill from there,

    Humanity I am glad does not mean civility because if it did we'd be gone already.

  9. The loss of empathy towards our fellow humans is the biggest loss in today's times...
    May you both get well soon!

  10. I love the Dalai Lama is so true.

  11. i hope you continue to feel better and head down that path of healing....and enjoy the time on the boat...if it is reading or beach walking...i dont know what happens to people you know....they expect certain things in life and when it does not work out become bitter...and it robs them of living...of enjoying what they do have....


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