Quantcast

«

»

Oct 24 2012

First world problems discussed by people with third world problems

Yeah. Our lives, our hyper-privileged lives, spent not having to worry about clean water or health care or food. Okay, some of us do, but very likely not the people reading this blog right now. These Haitians (I presume, by the French and the conditions) certainly put things into perspective.

I know that we can all focus on more than one injustice in the world at a time. I’m aware that every one of us — while we all work to further atheism and skepticism and social justice in our societies — at least has a computer or mobile smartphone on which to read blogs and write comments. That makes us all extremely privileged. That doesn’t make us bad, that doesn’t mean we should be ashamed, but it does mean we’re deprived of perspective sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. Focusing on our problems, our squabbles, our attempts to use social disapproval as the only tool at our disposal to force those without working empathy centres in our brains to actually care about treating one another properly in our lives is not a waste of time or resources. It is not the same thing as focusing on how terrible an injustice it is that you have to buy two wireless routers. But still, it is beneficial to get a little perspective once in a while.

If trolls get you down, go make yourself a cup of tea, and remember that you don’t have to worry that there are parasites in your water. And if you have some spare coin, consider giving it to Water Is Life.

Keep doing what you can to improve your lot in life. When you can, do what you have the spare resources to do, in order to improve others’ as well.

15 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Also: Heifer International

    It’s a charity that provides livestock, seeds, etc. to poor farmers across the globe (with an emphasis on helping poor women become self sufficent), as well as sustainability, etc.

  2. 2
    reliwhat

    But i thought (from reading comments on freethoughtblogs) that there was no lesser suffering, so why give money to those people when we could just all give it to our closet anti-bullying charity???

    But, on a more serious note, if it was indeed haiti, man, from what i heard, things over there were fucking horrible. One of my friend went there to help (he was in the army), and the things he told me. At first i thought, he must have seen a lot of dead people and suffering, but what he told me just blew my fucking mind. That was some shit you never make peace with.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    reliwhat: I covered that in the original post, thank you. There is no problem that someone should stop fighting in order to start fighting another. What I’m saying is, “my house is too big for one wireless router” is not a PROBLEM. It’s a PRIVILEGE.

    One cannot, say, tell someone to stop fighting first-world sexism because in the third world sexism often entails genital mutilation and murder for carrying books. Nor should one tell someone to stop fighting gun violence in North America because the gun violence in other areas are outright warfare, genocide.

    But one CAN tell someone to stop fighting the great I-got-pickles-I-didn’t-want menace because getting more food than you want is a privilege compared to people who don’t know where their next meal will come from.

    There are scales of relative harm, but that doesn’t make real harm any less real just because it’s less harmful than other harm that other people in other places experience.

    And my having to address it again here because you intentionally misinterpreted people’s far more nuanced viewpoints on the matter, even though I addressed it above, is a trolling tactic. Don’t do that again.

  4. 4
    composer99

    Getting pickles when you didn’t order them is an inconvenience.

    Needing two wireless routers for your house is an inconvenience.

    Getting shit on by misogynists online is an injustice.

    Living in the abject, grinding poverty of the Global South (or in aboriginal enclaves in colonial transplant societies) is doubtless worse than getting shit on by misogynists online, but that does not negate the injustice of misogyny.

  5. 5
    Greg Laden

    This is great, important to know, bla bla bla and Imma let you finish but I just wanted to jump in and add one element that is almost always left out of this sort of conversation.

    If you back up in space and time from each of those shots, and back up socially and economically, some of the people were’ seeing in this video are living pretty miserable lives and we should all be ashamed of living in a world with such economic disparity.

    But some of the people living in what Americans see as trashed out mud huts in the stinking rotting jungle are actually several hundred percent happier than anyone reading this blog will ever be because things are pretty good.

    There are two things missing in the lives of EVERYBODY in these situations: 1) Security from some crazy-ass army coming by and ruining life for everybody for decades because americans want nice diamond rings and cell phones, and 2) A resonable system for delivering health care which can, it turns out, be done in the agrarian (and forager) economies you see here.

    (I’ll add a buffering system for the food supply when it goes down for natural reasons, but I think you get the point.)

    I’m telling you this here because I made promises to some of the people in the mud huts to not facilitate the “first world” misunderstanding of everything beyond their noses.

    OK you may continue. Thank you very much.

  6. 6
    Jeanette

    I found that ad kind of disturbing because…it didn’t really show why not having clean water is a problem, and instead acted like the way these people’s lives are is the problem. A little disturbing that here in the U.S. we see generally having more stuff (much of which we get by exploiting the people in that video) as an ideal life. Yeah, there is some stuff you need to be happy, like clean water, access to education, access to health care, and maybe even some way to have a global voice like an internet connection. But showing shots of someone’s house, which looks very much like the vast majority of houses in the world, and insinuating that for that reason their lives all suck, is really obnoxious, and something we do routinely because of that same lack of perspective.

    That said, lack of clean water is a very real problem, and I’m not trying to discourage people from donating to that cause.

  7. 7
    Jafafa Hots

    I dunno, I didn’t take so much as a “I’m bad off because my house isn’t great” so much as “we don’t even have clean safe water where I live, so kindly get the fuck over yourselves.”

    In a nice way, I mean.

  8. 8
    Jay

    Heh. Because when Richard Dawkins says that Rebecca Watson’s #FirstWorldProblems ain’t shit, well, you know, MISOGNY!

  9. 9
    Jafafa Hots

    Heh. Because when Richard Dawkins says that Rebecca Watson’s #FirstWorldProblems ain’t shit, well, you know, MISOGNY!

    Heh. Because being sexually harassed is just like having your cell phone not charge properly.

    Dumbass.

  10. 10
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    If you back up in space and time from each of those shots, and back up socially and economically, some of the people were’ seeing in this video are living pretty miserable lives and we should all be ashamed of living in a world with such economic disparity.

    But some of the people living in what Americans see as trashed out mud huts in the stinking rotting jungle are actually several hundred percent happier than anyone reading this blog will ever be because things are pretty good.

    I’m so glad this was said. It’s something that First Worlders often forget, I think – that not everyone in the world shares out material-possession-obsessed idea of a “good life”.

    ++

    Heh. Because when Richard Dawkins says that Rebecca Watson’s #FirstWorldProblems ain’t shit, well, you know, MISOGNY!

    That’s right, diddums. Misogyny, sexism, sexual harrassment, rape culture – all just silly frivolous non-problems. Silly bitches should just shut up already.

  11. 11
    Anthony K
    If you back up in space and time from each of those shots, and back up socially and economically, some of the people were’ seeing in this video are living pretty miserable lives and we should all be ashamed of living in a world with such economic disparity.

    But some of the people living in what Americans see as trashed out mud huts in the stinking rotting jungle are actually several hundred percent happier than anyone reading this blog will ever be because things are pretty good.

    I’m so glad this was said. It’s something that First Worlders often forget, I think – that not everyone in the world shares out material-possession-obsessed idea of a “good life”.

    I agree. Of course, I’ve been arguing we should all return to a foraging lifestyle since I was young. I’m not kidding: If I had a gemsbok bone-tipped arrow for every time I’ve heard “Oh, not the hunter-gatherer rant again!” from friends, I’d be a man with many gemsbok bone-tipped arrows.)

  12. 12
    neoluddite

    I agree. Of course, I’ve been arguing we should all return to a foraging lifestyle since I was young.

    #nofarmallowed #yolu25

  13. 13
    Anthony K

    Assuming that #yolu25 means “You Only Live Until 25″, that’s an erroneous interpretation of average lifespan.

    I have rants on that, as well, but this person is more succinct than I.

    Keep in mind that extant forager groups typically live in areas less-than-suitable for agriculture. We know little about the lifespans of groups that lived in environments now taken over by agricultural and industrial cultures.

    And, of course, longevity for its own sake is not necessarily desirable, especially in modern industrialised societies which typically prioritise life-saving medical intervention over elder care.

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, it’s a uniquely Western prejudice that people assume that because another society lives in huts made of mud and grass, or forages for food, that they’re not happy. They’re very probably more happy than any of us, as long as their basic needs are being met, given that we’re constantly building new problems to grind ourselves down with. Look at how unhappy your average millionaire is. Look at how they’re constantly complaining about how their lives are hard too.

  15. 15
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Yes, “Westerners” are the sorts who will build for what I remember being described as “English comfort” when all you need is a grass or mud or stone or whatever structure. Pointlessly wasting resources is the game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>