The Fortunate Malaise

April 22, 2012
By Lydia Zimmerman BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
Lydia Zimmerman BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
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At one time or another, everyone sits back and takes stock of their place in the big bad world. Their big bad world, to be more specific. They evaluate their lives on how many friends they have on Facebook the grades they’ve gotten, the latest promotion they have (or more likely haven’t) gotten at work, or how hot their new boyfriend or girlfriend is. They complain about losing their second iPhone, or eating too much pizza at that bitchin’ party last night, and moan about how many reports their boss makes them write. Looking at all of these valid, rational, and completely non-selfish grievances, it is hard to imagine how it could get any worse. Gosh, it must be so hard to be them.
I mean, how can you function with only 200 friends on Facebook?
I’ll admit, I do this. As a teenage girl, there is plenty of drama to obsess over (believe me); there is always a boy who won’t ask me out and an accompanying Taylor Swift song, always a class in which I can barely scrape by, and never enough money to buy all my clothes from Victoria’s Secret. And so I wallow on the couch with my ice cream and Gilmore Girls and bemoan my fate. And then I Tweet about it, in my average house, in my average suburban neighborhood.
However, one day my Gilmore girls wasn’t on (dumb TV network) and I switched on the news while finding another show to watch (God forbid I should have a second without stimulation). And that was a decision that let me take stock of my life for real this time. While absorbing the scenes shown of war-torn Afghanistan and Sudan, and poverty-stricken Haiti, reality struck. Reality struck hard.
I have enough to eat, and to drink.
I never worry about having clothing to wear.
I don’t worry about getting shot on my way to school in my safe, sheltered, suburban bubble.
Instead of ignoring the rest of the starving, homeless, battle-weary world, I believe that it always could be worse for me, and I believe that I am so very lucky to live the life I lead.
Too many people are so focused on themselves and on their personal status and achievements, that even when abject poverty looks them straight in the face on the streets below the high-powered offices in which they work, they are able to tune out the “huddled masses, yearning to be free.” It is so heartening to see them embracing the American paradox.
Too many people think, “They don’t deserve what I have because they haven’t worked as hard as me. I am Fortunate, they are not.” Unfortunately for the masses, the theory of Social Darwinism is stronger than the moral compass of those who have the resources to help.
Not enough people have succumbed to the penetrating malaise that has been hibernating in a corner of the collective Fortunate mind. Evolving from centuries of a capitalistic mindset where it is every person for his or herself, this feeling of entitlement has blinded people for centuries. Interestingly enough, much of the revolutionary ideals in the past centuries have come from the prosperous. Anarchy, for instance, in the Russian Revolution was an idea discussed in the dining rooms of the rich over port and a cigar. Those who have the time and ability to envisage and enact change simply don’t anymore. They are blinded by the bigotry inherent in discounting the rest of the world which doesn’t have access to what most of us do; it is the ignorance of the people who rally around causes like KONY 2012 without knowing what it is, or that there are other more important things to be helping with. Apparently it’s okay to text “help” to some number on your 200 dollar Smart Phone to donate 5 dollars to a relief effort, and then be content with “doing your part.” If we wake up and smell the Starbucks brewing in your Cuisinart coffee-maker we could see that there is something wrong in the world and that we have to fix it. Then, and only then, should we be able to return guilt-free to our lucky lives, wherever we may live.
I feel that there should be a point where the gadgillionaires of the world sit back and have a good think, for once, on how lucky they are. And maybe, just maybe, they could be able to see just how lucky they are. Even when I pout about accidentally wearing the same dress as my friend to Homecoming, in the back of my mind is a little perspective, and I believe it could be so much worse.

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