Monday, December 27, 2004

The Three Gems of Buddhism and My Christmas Feast

The guilt of global inequality is heavy. It sits like a brick in my stomach, causing me to resemble many of the children around the world with protruding tummies. The only thing is that my belly is sticking out because I have stuffed it full of more food than most global citizens eat in a week, whereas theirs stick out as a result of starvation and malnutrition.
As I sat down for Christmas dinner this year, celebrating a holiday that I am both disenchanted by with its religious background, and appalled at with its modern deformed and demented pop culture face, I couldn't stop thinking about the brutal inequality of the world we live in. There I was, living in one of the most wonderful and beautiful places in the world, where luxury cars are the norm and a simple three-bedroom house sells for at least $500 000. At the very same time, on the other side of the world and even just on the other side of the Burrard Inlet on the downtown East Side of Vancouver, poverty was/is the norm and people were/are hungry. While I am happily filling my plate with more food than should physically fit in my stomach, in a warm house, surrounded by friends, family and laughter, someone is hungry, cold and shivering just a few kilometers away. In fact, most of the world is suffering while I am indulging. Every once and a while I have a moment of epiphany that these poor and hungry people aren't just a backdrop in my life and world image, they are real! Real suffering. And so, the savory sensations of my Christmas dinner were flavored with guilt. But what can I do? Wrap up my turkey and stuffing and send it to Uganda? I feel so helpless in this world sometimes.
Unfortunately, I can’t even afford to donate much to this cause that nags at my conscience – I too am struggling to climb out of this deep hole of inequality. We might live in a pretty decent area, but my family has never been able to keep up with the norms of luxury that this area of the world is accustomed to, and by comparison we are downright poor. As I was growing up, I never realized how little money my family had compared to those of my peers –the thought never crossed my mind, I was just a happy carefree kid. My parents struggled to make ends meet, but they managed to provide my sister and me with the most amazing childhood I could have hoped for, full of things that money cannot buy –as cheesy as that sounds. (This, I will set aside for another day of blogging). Now that I’m older, the perspective is clearer: we might think of ourselves as poor when we compare ourselves to those around us, but this is just a bubble –a completely inaccurate image of the majority of the world. How can I call myself poor as I sit here with a belly contently full of good food, in good health, in a warm house typing away on my very own computer? Compared to most of the people in the world, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m rich. I am so lucky. But what do I do now? How do I help to level the field, reduce the inequality, share the wealth, lighten the brick in my stomach? The problem is so vast and complicated. I am overwhelmed.
Over a year ago, a friend and I sat down and made about 50 sandwiches, packed them neatly into a bag, bussed downtown and walked around in the pouring rain, handing them out to hungry people on the streets. We ended up soaking wet and tired, but feeling very good about the whole thing. A handful of the Eastside residents got a sandwich from us. One sandwich on one day. So small. Did we make even a minute ripple on the surface? I can only hope so. All we can do is try.
Being just one small person staring in the face of a monster as daunting and overwhelming as our global inequality makes me feel so helpless and useless, but it also makes me realize that there needs to be a collective effort to change it. I'm thinking right now that the Three Gems of Buddhism might be a good place to start: Love Compassion and Understanding are the beginning.

Friday, December 24, 2004

I have

No clear thoughts to share.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cerebral Fabrications

I held a human brain once; it belonged to a man. He had died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 98. And there I was holding it, his brain. Well only one half really - the corpus callosum had been cut, freeing the left hemisphere from the right, so that the class full of students would have better odds of being able to pick it up during the short break. The ridges, folds, bumps, all intricately and perfectly arranged, that had been his memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences. His whole life. It was unbelievable.
Even before that moment in my life, brains both fascinated and disgusted me. Brains thinking about brains! I'm constantly totally and completely baffled.
I can produce a whole fight with someone in my head. I do it all the time. One minor thing can trigger a snowballing of thoughts. Over-thinking, over-analyzing until, in a short amount of time, every one of their actions are viewed through this warped perspective lense, altered until they fit neatly into this fabricated scenario.
Once it all blows over and I realize what I've done, I can only conclude that the power of our minds is incredible. Everything we experience is interpreted by the highly subjective machine of our brain. Without our human brains, we would be nothing, probably on the same level as a fish. But at the same time, how much do they alter our own experiences of life? And it gets me to thinking about how much we can trust our minds about the reality they create for us. How much of our experiences have been so warped by our subjective interpretation that they no longer match up with everyone elses'?
Now I'm left here sitting, thinking about my brain thinking about my brain thinking about my brain
I think the next book I read will be on epistemology.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Blog Crack

It has been one hour and twelve minutes since I officially created this blog. Already I'm feeling this strong alluring desire to write something bitingly witty and clever, or just anything at all. Why? The chances that someone will actually come along and read it is pretty slim. I'm likening it to a drug.
Over the past few months I've become aware of the mass amounts of online journals, blogs, and similar public outpourings of thoughts and ideas to a generally unknown audience. Of my small social circle, I can safely say that more of half of them write on a blog or something similar. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some closet bloggers too.
Why is that we want to open up for strangers? Likely because we don't know them, they can't really judge us, and even if they do, who gives a rat's ass? But then what is the point? Catharsis without consequences. Confession and expression. I guess a person's need to express themselves freely, without worry of judgement or sensorship is what it all comes down to. Is that it? Maybe that's just my reason.

How Did I Get Here?

Somehow I have found myself creating a blog. All I wanted to do was reply to a post on my boyfriend's blog - to correct him on his use of one particular preposition that altered his record of something I said. In order to do this, I had to become a member and create my own blog. Maybe it will turn out to be a positive chain of events. We'll find out with time I suppose. I don't really know what I intend to write here, most likely whatever random thoughts my brain produces over the course of the day, hense the title: Random Ramblings.
~Diving in head first~