So here’s another post mainly about my feelings.
Let’s throw the elephant in the room into the air and onto a trampoline and talk about Guilt.
Because oh my goodness I’ve felt its tug and pull upon my heart.
- 1. Arriving in Lima and driving straight to a hostel, in air conditioning, in a taxi, through areas poorer than I could know.
- 2. Writing that last sentence itself, for the phrase “poorer that I could know” twinges the guilt further.
- 3. The exchange rate in my favor, but still my penny pinching; asking for exact change from vendors.
- 4. Meeting GLBT activists and feeling like I’ve not done nearly enough research on my own country’s movement, but plenty on my own opinions informed by television and the internet.
- 5. Not doing enough to learn Spanish.
- 6. Being so afraid of being rude that I do not speak and am therefore rude.
- 7. Talking about my feelings too much in this blog.
With the discussion of Guilt also comes the discussion of Responsibility. There seem to be a few camps in this argument.
In (Absolutely) Reductive Simple Simple Terms:
“We must do all we can as Stewards of the World to care for the sick and the needy. As those blessed by God/Luck/Our Parents/Hard Work/Sheer Coincidence we have a responsibility to these people.”
“Its not my fault. I have no responsibility in this, and I’m busy enough trying to make ends meet in my own damn country.”
“No guys, it’s totally Capitalism. Capitalism fucks over each country and is far reaching. We are complicit and therefore responsible for our neglect in trying to change the system.”
And the whole of the argument seems to shift around. I-Hate-Capitalism man blames Trying-To-Make-Ends-Meet man for his complacency, Trying-To-Make-Ends-Meet man wants Trying-To-Help man to help his own country out, Trying-To-Help man gets angry at I-Hate-Capitalism man because of a perceived lack of action, I-Hate-Capitalism man calls Trying-To-Help man’s help a new colonialism, Trying-To-Make-Ends-Meet man wants only to eat and sleep and live the comfortable life he was promised by school and his parents.
Honestly, many men hold all these opinions at once. I do.
Then we see pictures of children.
So what do we do?
Must we all do the same thing?
How complicit are we?
Well, fuck it, I’m tired of feeling guilty because it does nothing.
And I’m tired of trying to place responsibility because I think we all have it immanently. To me this means that EVERYONE rich AND poor has a responsibility to look out for each other.
We all have responsibility and different types (not degrees) of power. Some is economic, cultural, physical, and in fact it defies typification itself.
And for me it is firstly to identify my feelings surrounding this.
And for me it is to address this guilt with practical and actionable solutions.
- 1. Educate myself about poverty from different sources.
- 2. Write my words anyway. To speak is to think. Words are needed.
- 3. Give tips, but stay on my budget. Not support exploitative tourism or extraction or industry as much as I can help. Look everyone in the eye and have respectful transactions.
- 4. Ask questions and look at GLBT history in the United States. Read. Write.
- 5. Practice Spanish.
- 6. Practice Spanish.
- 7. My feelings are important, damn it.
- 8. Remember this.
So this post comes full circle. And these problems are too complicated to solve today or tomorrow or by myself or with only one nation because everyone who argues about it is probably right. But fact is, we need to just fucking try something.