March 4, 2011 § 5 Comments
Phew. Feels like I’ve been on the freeway of time travel the past two weeks and it’s only now that I’ve managed to get off that train to sit and put thoughts to page. Lots of thoughts swirling around, as usual, but these two weeks they’ve been centered around a society: America.
Perhaps it’s my Sociology degree, or my over-analytical woman’s mind, but I’m always fascinated by the whys and hows of social life and issues. Poverty. Child Abuse. Religious Zeal. Unemployment. Power. Parenting Styles. Climate Change.
Big issues that I’ve encountered in some way or other in my short life (I used to work in Child Protection, just in case you were wondering…) that have, at varying points, given me pause to see their impacts and implications for the way I live my life. I attribute my ‘awakening’ and interest in topics like this to the four years of Sociology in college, and from there, working in the social services, in the highest levels of government, and then climbing the corporate ladder. My social circle back home included civil servants, academics, entrepreneurs, gays and social activists, a highly unusual group of friends by local standards.
In retrospect, I realize now that these experiences were preparing me, in a sense, for a life in America. Because in America today, the problems here are so big, so fragmented and so desolate that one can’t help but feel powerless. It’s like the never-ending train wreck.
Education is in a mess. Healthcare is in a mess. The food system is in a mess. Income distribution is horrifying. Energy Efficiency is light years away and Infrastructure is falling apart. This is not the place of opportunity, hopes and dreams that post-war America successfully postured – a disappointing realization that dawned on me in the first six months of living here.
I don’t like writing about negative topics because I believe that there’s enough gloom and doom in the media. But honestly, I’m really trying to grapple with the reality that I’ve seen in my time here, and what it means for the future. It’s definitely a good contraceptive because no way are we going to fork out $30,000/year to educate our kids for 20, 25 years; on the other hand, it’s also an incentive to plan our next steps, the place where we will live for the rest of our lives once our time here is done. As much as I want to do my part to help change and improve the system where I can (mainly in the areas of environmental and food issues), it’s just a tiny drop in the ocean. America’s biggest problem is that its Government is weak, and beholden to corporate giants. As long as that continues, nothing is going to change.
Sorry – that was quite the brain dump there. If you’re still reading, Nancy Gilgoff is in town and I’m attending her workshop tomorrow afternoon. I’ll have to remember to bring a notebook this time (unlike when I attended Kino’s class) so that I can share her insights with you all!