Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quixotic Activism

It's easy to get fed up with the current state of X. To laugh at, gripe about, and infuriate over.

Eventually, perhaps, to translate into action - when the desire for change outweighs the fear of involvement and an ideal takes hold.

To point, I despise American politics. The most recent mud-fights over the media inflated fears of the "Asian Bird Flu" really take the cake. Parties claiming that tremendous allocation of resources are required, and should have been done years ago (though they themselves at the time also shared no interest in the topic).

In all of industrialized China, where contact with livestock is far more common and the density of population makes for much easier potential transmission, there have been 2 confirmed cases and 1 suspected - and 2 deaths. Yes, this is a high mortality rate for illness - it also took place in a fairly rural environment where adequate medical care was not available. Weighing these facts against the literal hundreds of millions of potential victims (those in similar circumstances) makes the "outbreak" a laughable drop in a very empty bucket. More deaths occur by automobiles, homicide, suicide, freak accidents, lightning, etc.

None of which are currently high on the list of fear-mongering targets. So why does this factor garner so much of the attention? Why is "pandemic" the buzz word of the month?

Because (and this is my conjectured opinion) those currently in a position of influence fear it. As rich old white guys this is one of the few things in their "immediate environment" they feel they may be able to instill some measure of control over - and have grown accustomed to the other every day risk factors (if we assume congressmen and senators follow the national smoking rate of 20-30%, with an expected 60% mortality rate, we're already talking about more preventable deaths in a very small group than have been attributed to Avian Influenza in the past year in the global population).

This, I think, is disproportionate to the actual needs of the ever-lauded-during-election-year Constituent. I feel the situation rather poignantly highlights the self-serving motivations of a disconnected oligarchy. Other examples include self-proposed and self-approved pay raises, abuses of privilege of office (special treatment/gifts from lobbyists, market connections to inside information), lifelong retirement benefits, etc.

Not to dismiss the fact that some good does come out of the system, but it flounders in so many gross layers of bureaucratic fat that net performance is most probably negative.

Revisiting the topic of lobbyists: an entire industry dedicated to being on the take to those who can afford them, thus gaining informational access (and thus influence) to elected officials, comes across to me as a thinly veiled payola sleight-of-hand amplifying the voices of the rich and famous.

This top meager percentage fails to mobilize and motivate resources effectively (costing too much and taking too long), and has likely never known the challenges faced by those who elected them into office in the first place (I won't go into elections here).

It makes me want to run for office on a clean, low-budget, government reform campaign. Thoughts of the Presidency are even entertained, digging in with rolled-up sleeves to trim the aforementioned fat and make a difference for my fellow man.

Shortly afterward I usually recognize the difficulty of paddling upstream - I might move myself, but the water continues its course oblivious to my sacrificial effort. When can one person make a difference? When is the task too big? By what scope is caring rendered completely ineffectual and all action fruitless? AKA, should I even bother?

Similar perspectives (Man vs. Monolith) can be found in multiple environments: home & family, work, ecosystems, real diseases like HIV/AIDS (or Ebola for that matter), work, etc. Yes I said Work twice. Maybe in trying to push against the boulder one decides to move oneself instead - and quit, divorce, defect, or hermitize.

It is entirely possible that I am an emotional wimp simply looking to conform the world around me to an unrealistic ideal offered up by my own deluded fantasies. It is equally possible that I am responding to a negative impulse delivered by my brain's limbic system to bring my circumstance back in line with a real and recognized status-quo; perhaps even unselfishly.

I'd like to think I can make that distinction, but it hardly matters - the math works out the same.

Maybe I'll stick it to The Man and just move to Canada.

No comments: