champagne socialists

August 4th, 2014 — title reads, “success”: 

I envision erecting monuments of affluence, stapling mountains onto pinboards of lands I have conquered, doing feats of a lion in the body of a fish, so that I can tick things off my checklist (that has too often been dipped into pretentious dreams; it’s an unfavourable flavour). I won’t lose sight of these unrealistic goals but I just had an epiphany that struck me in the form of a wishful (?) daydream:

I took my daughter to Disney World over the 4th of July. And seeing her face as those fireworks went off gave me goosebumps. She looked so amazed. It just really made me feel like I’d accomplished something.

Made me so happy and I am at peace.

 i’m posting this today from my old blog (and it’s so weird, scrolling through the archives, feelings pangs of emotion paralleling what i was trying to articulate, but blocking them out before any memory fully pieces together, because i’m happy where i’m at and i don’t want these old thoughts converging with my new life) because i made two babies laugh today and my heart really felt so full and warm even though the moments were so fleeting. and two weeks ago i was also suddenly overcome with impatience and anger after hearing about all the heroin cases in the US — i.e. parents passing out or completely overdosing, foaming at their mouths, in front of their children — and just the overall thought of kids being orphaned at such tender ages or shoved into foster care (and props to social workers who do their jobs well and help ease the mounting pressures and heavy hearts dumped on these kids’ backs, but i doubt anything will fully compensate for what they have to go through, although yes! help matters! patience matters! faith matters! a sturdy support system matters so much, sometimes even for the better, but there’ll always be a missing why and what if my life was different, you know?).

so many things to consider when parenting, because giving in to your children isn’t the hard part; disciplining them is. and, of course, always that moral dilemma if your kid isn’t in perfect health. always the pressure to say and do the right things. always the precariousness of trying to maintain a good role model image. always the fear something will go wrong, that you’ll mess up, and your kid won’t have a happy life when you’re gone or will be misled. maybe not always in an explicit sense, but surely the nagging voice remains. it would for me. not overconsumingly, not to the point of not being able to love and appreciate and enjoy the beauty and indescribable soulfulness of being a parent, but i’ll likely think about it in some effort to constantly better myself as a parent.

it currently costs an additional $1,500 just for a home study to assess suitability and readiness for adoption of a foreign kid. and there are still laws imposed by individual countries in re overseas adoption that must be considered. the way i see it, do i want to try to provide a better life and a supportive environment for a kid from an LEDC or someone local? does it make a difference? will a choice to go for the latter hold me somehow morally responsible for the opportunity cost of not helping a kid out who might otherwise end up in poverty or child labour, because in general local conditions and trafficking aren’t as prounced as in places like, say, Sudan or Venezuela (Tier 3 under the 2016 Trafficking in Persons report)? if i end up adopting a kid am i indirectly responsible by some extended, confounded ethical negligence for all the kids i didn’t adopt, simply because i am aware of their suffering, so that somehow holds me accountable to a little extent?

very tormenting living in such a dismal, unbalanced world. i try to be aware of my privilege, and of course there remain things i do not realise are little privileges (so how can i be aware about what i am unaware i should be aware about?), but there is so much more to be done and so many more people need to try to grasp that having a certain, definite home to return to is a luxury for others. it is a privilege, being able to pay $7 for coffee that’s actually worth less than a quarter its price, or annual ski trips, or $100 for concert tickets.

i feel like saying that we should “empathize” with people suffering to cover their basic needs / achieve a fundanmental standard of living understates what’s truly going on, through some false claim of being able to fathom being in someone’s shoes, because can we really, if we’ve never struggled against some impending, suffocating fear of being kicked out and forced to live on the streets? even in New York there are homeless people almost everywhere and in particular i remember a woman lying on the ground, barely propped up against the wall, shaking so fucking tremendously because all she had between her and the winter was a thin veil of a blanket, and there i was on a fucking holiday — the airfare alone could’ve bought maybe 100 homeless people decently thick quilts because the trip from Singapore to NYC is not pretty — already freezing in a winter coat, and it was so dark and i had been so wary of homeless people during my time there because there are dangerous ones, however rare, but it was so obvious she was genuinely starving and freezing, and what could i do but hand her a pretzel i’d taken a small bite in, and i felt somewhat good about it because at least she had a little something to eat, but i remember wondering, what if she can’t chew it properly? your dental hygiene deteriorates fast if you don’t keep up with it, and when your stomach is growling you prioritise its cries above the pain in your mouth, but god, what will a temporary pretzel do, what good is this fleeting self-centred sense of feeling altruistic, what will happen tomorrow, the day after that, the weeks to follow? frostbites? hypothermia? influenza? i don’t know. i can’t even know. what good is a $2 pretzel when i’m here likely about to spend $15 on a next meal i may not even finish (imagine the privilege of being too full), drink coffee from a $200 machine, created because when consumers can afford it we demand maximum efficiency because suddenly time — not food, not water, not shelter — becomes our most sacred resources in some convoluted thrust of motion as we compete against time (what the hell are we rushing for?).

Louis Nowra: “Love is an indulgence for the privileged few.” i think this breakneck adrenaline rush through life we engage in is, too. we indulge, we indulge, we indulge, and there’s nothing wrong with indulgence, but how can we indulge without realising it? and how do i live with myself for the rest of my life knowing my privilege and being entrapped by it, by self and social norms? i won’t be ditching going out for dinner or going on vacations just because i’m posting about all this, but should i? is it now, on my conscience, obligatory or just correct? champagne socialism at its ugly finest.

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