Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"Nothing is what you think it is"

There are things you learn about yourself and your surroundings when you have the opportunity to live in unfamiliar surroundings, but unless you're up to your waist in those new surroundings you’ll be hard-pressed to actually understand them. Most are content to not understand them. Fucked up things happen and that’s just the way it all flows. Fortunately, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy, and am in the habit of trying to understand some of these fucked up things. A common phrase to anyone who’s witnessed or been subjected to inequality or some other aforementioned fucked up thing is along the lines of “that’s just how it is”. This is a submission that things are flowing against how you would ever want them to be, yet can do nothing to fix this. Sometimes it’s out of laziness, but sometimes, there truly is nothing you can do without putting your life at risk. 

In Canada we have the good fortune to be able to publicly comment on government policy without being arrested or any other terrible thing, and in this case saying the above phrase, conceding defeat, is out of laziness. Too lazy to participate in democracy, and submission is much easier.

In non-democratic states, this is not always the case. You see harsh inequalities, or unjust occurrences and to speak out against them may mean your life, or in the very least an increase in discomfort. I see many new luxury vehicles around the city now, yet with a mean annual income of $1,700 this would never be a reality for most. So people work hard to fight this monster called inequality. They work for NGOs and even government agencies, they rally companies to get involved and the best ones put their asses on the line to help those who could never dream of owning that car, mostly because they cannot even sleep long enough in a day to dream in the first place. 

They work hard, and yet their work is often clouded by realities. Realities of needing partnerships. Realities of needing funding. Realities of not being arrested. These are often unavoidable, and some of these workers I’m sure are tempted to concede defeat against the wave of fucked up things. Sometimes we can fight against the realities to still make a meaningful difference, and in the field of development it’s just something we have to do. We push through them, holding our values as key, until we can find a solution. A co-worker told me that one of her friends’ had a nanny who took their infant outside on a daily basis to beg on the streets with her (unbeknownst to the parents), adding with a tone of near-resignation that “here, nothing is what it seems. There is always a reality hiding underneath what you see”. 

But her friends didn’t give up. They installed cameras in their house.

And sometimes, that’s just what we have to do to un-fuck situations.