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Sometimes you read or hear about some cataclysmic event or horrible atrocity and you selfishness wonder how you would react to these things. You transport yourself into the supposition world inside your cranium to self-evaluate and dither on your level of courage and morality. “Would I be a hero? Would I crumble and fall? Would I be rich? Here’s what I say to me. You would survive just like those people you read about, just like you have been in your present life. The human desire to drive on and level themselves in whatever hell they’re in is universal and powerful strong.

Reading about the concentration camps in North Korea in The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan, I present myself with a mental play. A division of self wherein I decipher how would I fare, what type of person would I be. Would I be the coward and weakly cast myself against my fellow man? Would I hold on to the vestiges of my honour and brave the harshness of life with that Dirty Harry machismo? I think I would try and be strong for people and not give in to tyranny, not lose my empathy and resolve. Many breaks I would take yes; much exasperation and anger gurgling up the craw. But we must press on, shovel shit and like it.

We have it easy in the western world, in the industrialized countries where choice and fancy are up for grabs, where we relish in entertainment and assortments of personal property. But we become bitter, jaded, spoiled miscreants working for someone else’s quality of life to get that hallelujah payday. Many fought for our day in the sun and we complain about burns. But what else would we do? Kiss the ground beneath our feet and not ask for better? The human condition compels us to strive ever forward and please ourselves to immensity. A wake in the diaspora of an evolving idea; utopia. To glide on borrowed wings high up to the sun. I can’t feel bad about being born into a life across the sea, free from the gravity of the downpressor man. Reality bites but the damage is minimal. We are strong enough for our circumstances.

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