Tired of things being the way they are, not because they must be, but because people force them to be. Tired of a world where one must struggle to stay afloat. Tired of a million opportunities flying past while pursuing any one. Tired of having the world all wonder “what might’ve been.” One of my favorite songs is called that. My grandma’s ex-husband (my ex-step-grandpa) wrote it, quite dark lyrics. My uncle plays the really sad fiddle part.
What Might’ve Been
It might’ve been the moon I don’t know,
They threw their clothes in the back of her old cadillac,
And they rolled it on down to Mexico.
She was running from her future,
He was running from his past,
She was prepared to lie about her age just a little,
As it turned out he never asked.
But it might’ve been too much tequila,
All those Coronas that they swelled (?),
It might’ve been just a 3-10 romance,
Anyway who’s to say how another person feels.
It might’ve been their biorhythms,
Or a barometric change,
Neither one was ever all the way sober,
So I guess they never noticed nothing strange.
She started feeling kinda left out,
He wasn’t feeling all that well,
And soon they both felt about as hopeless,
As a preacher feels in hell.
It might’ve been some long lost lover,
Whose memory just sorta lingered in the wind,
It might’ve been that they were crazy remnants,
Just digging through the ashes of what might’ve been.
They split the sheets in Puerto Vallarta,
She left him passed out on the bed,
He had to hitchhike up to Juarez,
And he never understood a word they said.
They might’ve been a whole lot different,
If they wasn’t who they were,
It might’ve been a different picture,
But as it was the images got blurred.
And I’m drinking beer in front of my TV,
Yes these re-runs do get old,
Sleeping alone in this big bed,
I’ll admit the nights get cold.
But if I’ve got to take a beating,
If my heart just must be broke
If I’ve got to bite the bullet,
Well it sure as hell won’t be in Mexico.
What might’ve been. A million things might’ve been. A million leaders may never have been born, ruled their nations differently, made different realities for this world. A billion people may have grown up without knowing the sting of hunger, the cold winds of an unsheltered winter, or a wrenching pain that only dirty water can give. What might’ve been. We can spend all day wondering, all day reading and thinking and being perplexed as to why this and why that. We can spend all day listing and drafting and writing about what might have been if only. . .
We still have an eternity to see what may be. We have endless time ahead of us (well, until the end-times if you think they’re coming, and even if they are, we should still take care of the world as best we can) to shape and to change this world for the better. There are countless approaches and methods that we may give and discuss. The truth of the matter is that on some very basic counts, most people agree. There are of course those that would say that we should not burden ourselves with others’ worries. There are many more who are compassionate and believe that we should. With more singular focus, we have the resources to take on the very worst of the world’s problems and to meet them with some success.
I am tired of politics in the United States focusing entirely on every tiny detail while missing the larger whole. Why can’t we seem to find the big picture anymore? If a candidate wins Iowa and New Hampshire, they have a long ways to go. Instead, through media sensationalism, if one wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he or she is well on the path to the party’s nomination it would seem. Every small victory or small failure is portrayed as an amazing feat or as the end of the world. As shocking as an event is, and as much as it may change our lives forever, how much can one event really shape our lives? It is easy to argue that September 11 provided a pretext for the invasion of Afghanistan (and later, in the minds of neo-cons everywhere, for Iraq). We have also started wars over much less major incidents (Kosovo) and have been slow to act in the face of larger challenges (Japan and Germany). There is hardly a direct correlation between the actual magnitude of an event (eg Britney Spear’s dramatic life, tiger mauling of three people) and the response in the American media (constant coverage and in-depth analysis).
I am tired of rude people. Why can’t people try to accept that life is difficult for everyone and instead of piling their troubles on others, try to help others. Random acts of kindness go a long way. They do return eventually. Being helpful rather than a burden will make each other person’s day slightly easier. On the simple level of a couple, one partner aiding the other brings greater happiness to both. Amongst friends, a helpful friend is more well liked, respected, and aided than a difficult one. On the level of a society, many people interacting in order to work to a common end yields greater and more effective results.
This can be seen nowhere better than Singapore. Unfortunately, the common end has been chosen for the people. Instead of working for the direct benefit of the society, people in Singapore are all a part of a giant machine working towards some vague concept of “modernization” and “development.” As a nation, they are highly successful at working towards this end. The nation has experienced unparalleled growth and development and the people’s lives have improved from it, though disproportionately so. Those at the top, indeed, are getting richer, and the poor. . . you’ve heard it a hundred times. Imagine for a moment if this society were striving for something together, a national purpose that benefitted the various groups more equally. People are okay with the government because it is preferable to regional governments, but someday, the PAP will have to reckon with its years of domination of the unhappy, who in most places are silent but powerful when they eventually do rise up.
So, the problem is purpose. I find it in my own life. I find it in others’ lives. Purpose is the one thing that seems to haunt those of us with the “freedom” to choose our purpose. Some compromise and decide to work for a company and just get through life, not really finding some vague romantic higher purpose. It is probably easier to do this as the road is predictable. But what about those of use who have been led on by the dream that we will one day find our purpose and place on this planet and fill it and serve that purpose out.
What if my purpose is to serve humanity and I’m not ready to give up the comforts of a wealthy developed country for a more average and equitable global standard of living? Would I contradict my own purpose? My standard of living at the moment is not sustainable. I’m not talking in terms of my lifespan, but in terms of the world. We have enough resources to pull people out of absolute poverty, but with current technology, we do not have enough to give the rest of the world what the United States has. Granted, there is a lot of inefficiency, waste, and excess that could be taken out and make it more attainable, but would we even have enough resource and capacity (environmental and otherwise) to maintain this standard? I am not sure that we would.
If the days of the United States and other developed nations at the top are numbered (as history suggests, though it may be a while longer), will some of those nations find themselves replaced by places “underneath” them only to find that their standard of living drops. This seems to be the only sustainable path. If this is true, what are we willing to give up in compromise? Instead of being pushed down by nations which have lay in waiting, would we be willing to give up some of our comforts in order to distribute some of our resources more equitably and elevate other nations while lowering ourselves to a more sustainable and “fair” level?
I suppose these are the questions that many struggle with. But these are the issues that are often silent in the United States. We are so quick to assume that the path we are on at the moment is the ideal path and that we somehow have a right to keep what we have been blessed with from others. Unfortunately, the complexity of an argument (which I am only very briefly touching on and only very generally and abstractly) has no room in the course of a sound bite. Because we, the American public (the most influential public in the world), are controlled by soundbites, we miss out on all of the details, half-conclusions, and compromises. Meanwhile, we leave all of these sticky details to our elected leaders. Who are our elected leaders?
Unfortunately, they are often people who we think we could go have a good time with. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard a candidate’s “likability” mentioned on TV or online. Our politicians are people that, as I heard someone say once, “it’s good for our president to be average cause we know we can trust him.” Well, let’s put it this way, he might be likable (to you), but he’s proven we can’t trust him (bush). If the people we elect are chosen by people who pay attention primarily to Britney Spears’s chaotic life and secondarily, or worse, only slightly to politics, what can we expect of our leaders? How can those that pass through an American popularity contest on soundbites ever have a chance of digging through the difficulties of the real world? They don’t stand a chance.
Granted, there is a large intelligent pool of people which make up the various federal agencies. Like it or not, bureaucrats are the ones who actually enact the policies and implement them in the most effective way possible. It’s fine when the bureaucrats are there for intelligence, when we start to fill our departments with good buddies and old colleagues who are barely qualified in a given area of government, we open the United States to something that should scare us much more than Al Qaeda, stupidity. The United States is a republic, and I wholeheartedly believe that the people should have the choice to doom themselves if they choose. Problem is, we’re too stuck in making sure we could go on a fishing trip with our presidents than we are making sure that our country is being ruled effectively.
I am tired, just tired, of things as they are. Exhausted by things that can not be changed because of the ways people view them and tired of people who see roadblocks where there could be maybe not a freeway, but a rough road or even a dirt path. Some things are not insurmountable, some things may be overcome. This world is hard as it is, but why make it harder than it has to be?
Someday, maybe we will awake to find ourselves in a better state, but not without dedication and effort. If you see a problem that you can fix, then just fix it. It will not happen unless we take concrete steps to realize it. Someday. . .