3rd world guilt

Lyon Keating:

Years ago when I was doing a semester abroad in London I almost took a flight over to Egypt but it was pretty expensive at the time.  It was either spend a week in Egypt or spend about a month traveling around Europe.  I figured I would get back sometime and I’m sure I will.  Maybe I’ll visit it when I visit Turkey, my most sought out place to go in my mind right now.

In Asia last year I traveled with an Egyptian turned Britain for a few days.  He was so proud of the fact that he came from Egypt and would have considered it an insult to be referred to as African or Middle Eastern.  In his mind, Egypt was far more advanced than the war torn middle east and the desperate African countries that are plagued with so many problems.  It reminded me sort of how some Italians still refer to themselves as Roman, but at least Egypt is it’s own country wheras Rome is no more.  He was a pretty funny guy and I was suprised he felt this way about his country as I learned that there was a warrant out for his arrest if he ever returned to Egypt because he did not serve his obligatory time in the military there.  My time with him ended in Chang Mai, Thailand preparing to fight him in a Muay Thai Boxing ring where we paid off the ring hands.  As I ventured up into the ring I stumbled over because I was so drunk and couldn’t really even stand up.  I hardly remember a thing except being led back to my hotel room by a guy whose head was bleeding from the fight before us.  I guess it’s a good thing I was so drunk.  See kids, sometimes it pays to be blitzed out of your mind.  In this situation is probably saved me from at least a broken nose.

Anyway, I can relate to the annoyance of being harrassed by merchants to buy their stuff.  I often took the same approach of just ignoring them when in fact I would have been more likely to buy something if I was allowed to look around.  I would usually give tips to people/guides, etc. who weren’t pestering with me either.  However, with the mentality in these countries of my loss is another’s gain combined with things being so desperate, I can see why they do it.  I might find myself acting in the same manner if I was in a similar situation.  I was never too good at ignoring these types of social pressures.  They just left me feeling guilty all the time and my mood towards everything as a whole usually worsened.  It’s hard sometimes to justify all the money/opportunities you have vs. being swarmed by those that just don’t have anything….

…. Australia is going to be a more relaxing time abroad.  I’m excited to buy plane tickets from an airline with customer service and travel around with those that speak my language, and not have to worry about taking pills or getting shots, having diareah, getting robbed, having a layer of third world slim on me at all times.  It will be nice.  The plans will stay loose.  My girlfriend is coming with me and we’re going to go to Sydney, Melbourne and then Brisbane area.  We’ll spend a week or so in Sydney and Melbourne and then about 3 weeks in the beach surf area of the gold coast all taking place in the month of March.  I’m really looking forward to going and not being abroad and having to grit my teeth for most of the time and be all alone either.  I always had a hard time with that.

As for Binda, I stopped giving him money in August.  When I saw him I told him I would give him a hundred dollars a month for a year and that was going to be it.  That money helped him out a lot and I hope he still has a little of it.  Even though I’m traveling to Australia and not working for a month (this is going to sound stupid) I don’t have a lot of extra money to give him at the moment.  I gave him lots for a year and feel I’ve done a good thing in his life and want to put my money elsewhere.  Here’s that guilt coming through again but whatcha gonna do?  Most people never help anyone out ever in their life and I feel I’ve done my part for him.  Hopefully later, I’ll have much more excessive money again and be able to help him or someone else in another way.  Obviously I don’t want anything bad to happen to Binda or his wife, or anyone else for that matter, but once again, whatcha gonna do?  Life is hard and unfair and I’m lucky to be living and having the opportunities I have vs. those of others who have nothing.  I’ve spent a lot of time feeling bad about my own life in comparison to such others and realized I get no where quickly feeling bad all the time about it.  Such is life, there are no clear answers as to why things are the way they are, it sucks for a lot of people, and as long as you try to give when you can and feel grateful and respectful towards your situation and mindful about not living totally wastfully to where it horribly and negatively affects others then that’s all you can really do.  That’s at least where my conclusions have led me thus far in my life, unless you can recomend anything different?

I admire people like Binda who do whatever they need to do in order to survive without being a total dick about it.  I have this other guy who was my teacher in Guatemala and both of them know how to stay in contact with people and use their resources to better their living situation.  They know that the more they casually write and drop hints about what’s going on people will send them things.  Is that not a job in itself in order to provide for their family, community, themselves?  I don’t seem to care too much where the money goes that I send these people.  I would hope it would go to something beneficial rather than something not, but I believe it does and that’s all that matters to me.  Both these people seemed to be nice, honest, normal people and why shouldn’t people throw them a bone every now and then and why shouldn’t they ask for it?

I like your thinking about every choice being a good choice in our lives.  I think it’s good every once in a while to remind ourselves of that and the experiences we’ve had in the world.  It’s quite easy to drop back into menial problems that arn’t really problems but because we don’t have freaking serious problems they can seem like serious problems.  There is a lot of anghst associated with “making the most of it” because we do live in this fortunate situation and isn’t it our responsbility to grab at every opportunity that 95% of the world doesn’t have?  That can be a lot of pressure but like you said, it’s fortunate that we have this pressure, but living life full of having vast expectations for everything you do can be daunting and stressful and very unhealthy.  Maybe it’s just a young person thing, and I’ve often thought that as I age things will chill out a bit with all this stuff.  We’ll see I suppose.

 

Yoda:

Okay . . . if Turkey is the “most sought out place to go” in your mind, then what the hell are you doing in Australia?!?!?  Oh, wait . . . something about girlfriend?????  Okay, but think of me wallowing in “third world slime” while you are lounging on that Australian beach!!!!  Turkey is pretty awesome, by the way.  Turkey-Jordan-Egypt would be an AWESOME trip!!!!!

I don’t have to justify my wealth compared with the abject poverty of most of the world.  Basically, it CAN’T be justified.  I am no more worthy.  I work no harder.  I am no more deserving.  It is just the luck of the draw.  I don’t begrudge all those guys in the developing world trying to make a buck off me, whether that guy is a souviner seller or a camel-ride giver or a guy like Binda who milks his contacts in order to provide for his family.  They are doing what they need to do.  I don’t like it when they are pushy about it, but it is no different than a pushy car salesman.  And I don’t feel guilty about it all, either.  I give a LOT of money back to people:  orphans in India, my driver’s kids’ education, human rights groups, environmental groups, etc.  That still leaves me filthy rich by world standards, but that’s the way things are.  No guilt; but a LOT of appreciation for how fortunate I am.

 

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