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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our privileges in life

My good friend HAP published a really powerful entry on her own blog last week that I found a really impressive piece of writing, covering the "Repsponsibitily of an easy life." Considering my circumstances in life, I thought it was worth putting together something on this and thought it was well worth highlighting to others as it's such a good thought provoker - i.e. go read her entry and put a comment in.
I live a very comfortable existence myself - as demonstrated by my current trip! I'm definitely part of the world's society that can live a very comfortable lifestyle, having always had the ability to travel, purchase all the basic essentials of life (and much more items that really are just consumer items to help me in sports, etc.). Money makes the world go round (i.e. you must have it to survive) and it's something I've never struggled with so I can consider myself very fortunate. I've had the decent job, a car and all the toys I've ever required for whatever activity I've tried throughout the years. And then, without too much worry, I'm able to just quit and drop off the side of the Real World for a while - and yet still afford to pay for insurance, do an lot of traveling and sport in the space of one year.
I still find it amazing, and very unfair for a lot of other people, that I'm able to avoid all work and yet still able to afford to purchase a laptop and snow gear, let alone just survive (i.e. food and accommodation, the basic essentials for every day).

As part of my regular traveling however, I try to find some way to learn from the experiences. I've always made sure that on my travels I always try to get out and in the local's culture in some ways and not be 'pampered' by staying in fancy hotels and the main tourist resorts along the way. It's always something that I've believed that I should make myself more aware of while traveling of other people's situations and not just see the rosy, tourist sites.
It does mean of course I've seen the highlights and low-lights of people's situations (this is only a brief sample):
• The 4-limb amputee crawling along the ground begging for money I passed while wandering around Beijing
• The highly-amusing yak herders who spent over an hour looking over my shoulder as I typed out some emails while at 3,000 meters in a small Tibetan village in China even though they couldn't read/write/speak English
• The amazing work with charities that has taken place in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and all over Laos (even if, unfortunately, it was a Western country that put Laos in the mess it's in now - armed security on all buses to stop raids).
• The drug trade of Laos and the hilarious invite to go and see the poppy fields ("the armed security-men don't come out in the evenings")
• The sheer happiness and generosity of the local families who invited my whole family out for dinner and yet have only seen destruction in their lives in the de-militarized zone of south Lebanon in '94.
• The young Israeli soldier who was dragged onto the road after shooting himself in South Lebanon (suicide rates amongst young Israeli soldiers were very high back in '94, don't know whether they've changed much since then).
• The sheer beauty of a Jewish memorial of the holocaust containing countless candles in a room that was completely enclosed in mirrors (small wisps of light just repeating themselves into the distance forever in every direction*) - interestingly, my cousin Evelyn remarked that this memorial in Israel is one of her strongest memories of the country also.
• The poverty of some people in Slovakia and "their 'brotherhood' to the Irish, because of Northern Ireland and our struggles for freedom from the UK. They relate this to everyone who's ever occupied their country - Don't ask me, this is what I was told by a local while he tried to feed me with the local version of home-brew spirits!
• The sheer wealth of people as they lounged around beaches in Croatia - and yet the locals can't afford to buy a house in their own towns anymore (much like lots of famous tourist resorts now).
• The karma beliefs of the Aussie who drove me 60 kms into town after we got a lift into town to replace a battery and refused payment. "Dude, I had my car robbed a few years ago. The police found it buried into a wall about 2 miles down the road. They believe the brakes failed on the thiefs. Now THAT'S karma! And that's why I'm driving you into town, someone will return the favor to me in the future"

I know at the moment I'm living a very selfish existence however and am yet to figure out a way on how to re-pay these experiences other than just record them in my own thoughts (and output to y'all via this blog, although in fairness I've always kept the nasty photos off the blog, especially from China). I believe I should be doing more, but hope that, and believe that there will be a time when I'm in a situation (or a situation that I make happen) to re-balance the "karma" (as HAP describes it perfectly and that crazy Aussie described).

In the meantime, all I can hope for is people work together and give back where they can. I do believe that the likes of the 'net, and ironically global warming (notice how a lot of people are turning towards recycling and yet it's not all due to the fact that a government is pushing them to do it. Usually it's governments that pushes us to follow regulations and get us into and out of trouble, e.g. wars/road safety rules/etc., but now it's the consumers that are helping change ways when it comes to recycling)., are linking people in a better way and letting us see 'outside the box'. I.e. it's a much bigger world you live in than the town/city/street you currently reside on.
Maybe this is a good thing? All thoughts are welcome - don't be afraid to use the comment form people!!!! and don't worry about shouting me down or acknowledging things I've said - I always enjoy learning from other people's ideas and experiences. Share some knowledge and insight, everyone appreciates it.

Once again, and as always, I'm probably talking some shite in there so feel free to comment/correct/critise and via comments so people can see other ideas. Feel free to say what you think - always good to hear other ideas