Working conditions in the Fukushima plant
thesummerofmark writes: “Probably what they are ‘cheering’ is 頑張る, which, though often translated as ‘do your best,’ is much more than that - an earnest plea or vow to do whatever it takes, to totally commit oneself to something. There’s no equivalent in English.”(via maxistentialist)
Today is my wonderful father’s birthday; it is also Paul’s; it is also the anniversary of Kristallnacht and of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Does anyone know how precisely –if at all- the Earth is in the same position relative to the sun in successive years on a given date?
My father has given me a great deal, and I’ve taken even more from him, particularly materially. One of my favorite gifts from him was C.S. Lewis’ marvelous autobiography of youth, Surprised by Joy, which explores a sensation the pursuit of which was to guide Lewis’ life.
By Joy, Lewis means a precise phenomenon which is by its nature indescribable directly; I often think of it as a kind of profoundly asymptotic experience, profound because all reality, all contact, all intellection is in some senses asymptotic; the asymptote is a metaphor I think of often. Lewis says Joy is “an unsatisfied desire which itself is more desirable than any other satisfaction.” He continues:
“Joy…is here a technical term and must be distinguished from both happiness and pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that…it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever…exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.”
Joy is, for Lewis, most often brought about in contemplation of certain worlds, particularly in childhood, and I think it is most universally understood in that way: think of those worlds, those spaces you adored or considered magical in your youth. Perhaps it was a shed in which you played with a friend in which the sun though a small window illuminated the suspension of dust and made it appear that there was a wall of light. Perhaps it was the universe of a favorite children’s book, the illustrated rooms of which seemed rich in depth, every detail en enormity.
Perhaps it was even more vague; Lewis recalls the stirring of Joy when reading a poem:“I desired, with almost sickening intensity something never to be described (except that it is cold, spacious, severe, pale, and remote,” and later relates the development of his interest in Norse mythology to this resonance.
The frequency with which I’ve felt Joy has varied greatly; I anxiously worry that my medicines stifle it, but I have come to feel that it is actually ineluctable if one has any life of imagination at all. I feel that it is, in fact, a kind of barometer of my internal world. But it is rare, rarer than anything else I experience.
Lewis writes that “All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be.’” In his life, the catalyst for Joy changed greatly over time and eventually became religious; indeed, there is much in the perpetually anticipatory, asymptotic, ungraspable, unspeakable quality of Joy that reminds one of various mysticisms, particularly of the East. But it is universal, I think; it is what sets us wandering in childhood, searching for beauty less of a formal than an emotional sort.
I’d never known that anyone else felt it before I read Surprised by Joy, and I can thank my dad for bringing awareness of it to me; he has done so with so many things I treasure over the course of my life that I could never repay him. Neither could I repay him all the money I’ve taken, but I think the former debt is the more significant.
I was watching a video explaining how there was going to be an impending hyperinflation crisis in America for about an hour before I realized that it was a bullshit advertisement to subscribe to a man who was playing on your fears about the economy just so he can stuff his own pockets.
But that isn’t to say that the information he detailed in the video wasn’t incorrect. We really are in an insurmountable fiscal hole.
There are several issues at hand that the government really isn’t owning up to or explaining the reasoning behind.
1) Why the hell are we still conducting a full-scale military operation in Iraq and Afghanistan?
- This issue branches off into many other smaller yet significant segments.
It costs approximately $1 million dollars to maintain ONE solder in Afghanistan. We have about 90,000 troops over there as I type this. This easily amounts to $90 billion dollars. Here are the zeros for added effect: $90,000,000,000.
That figure discounts the money put into vehicles, gas, airplanes, etc. It should be no surprise that the defense budget is fast dwarfing all other sectors of the gov’t budget. Because we’re pumping so much money into this operation, we have less money directed towards infrastructure, Medicaid, Social Security, and such. Why? Because we, as the United States, think we need to use our vast military might to stomp out a group of radical jihadists whose actually number less than 150 according to BBC. What do we get in return? More casualties than we’ve asked for and a good drubbing on our already debt-consumed economy. It should therefore seem appropriate that Afghanistan is named the Graveyard of Empires. You can look this up: no foreign power has ever actually been able to successfully occupy Afghanistan. But wait, here’s the real kick. There is no such thing as an Afghanistan. NONE! It’s a land full of nomads who don’t even recognize the borders we drew for them.
And yet, the White House appears to have fallen underneath this haze of over-protectionism and given the Defense Department more rein than it should ever have. Here’s what should happen:
- As with the Eisenhower and Truman administrations, the Defense Department was only given the remainder of the gov’ts budget AFTER all the money had been appropriately portioned out to civilian affairs and domestic infrastructure. But now, we have a Defense Department, seemingly ignorant of how economic affairs work, running AMOK with our money. You figure out the rest.
- We’re doing the whole thing in Afghanistan and Iraq completely wrong. USA Today recently ran an article on how counterinsurgency can work on a very limited budget. In the Philippines, the US is still running a counterinsurgency operation against radicalist groups with ties to Al-Qaeda. We have a staff of about 600 NON-COMBATANT troops (meaning they don’t conduct actual interventions) who have adopted a primarily advisory role for Filipino troops, and they run on a budget of about $50 million dollars per year. The war in Afghanistan costs us $2 billion a week. And yet, we’ve managed to reduce the number of Filipino terrorists there from 1200 to about 400 and kill/capture 28 of their leaders. Yet somehow, we have 90,000 troops in Afghanistan with really, nothing to show for. The people don’t like us there and want us out. All we’ve done is incur civilian casualties and destroyed homes. The rebuilding programs we’ve put there? Most of them have been abandoned thus wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. We need to gtfo. Seriously.
2) What is our government hiding from us?
Or rather, why aren’t they being clear with citizens about what’s going on in the political sphere? We are daily being bombarded with so much information that we don’t know what to do with it nor have any idea how to delve our way through it. What’s important and what isn’t? Remember Wikileaks? Hundreds of thousands of supposedly “classified” documents containing highly secretive information werereleased to the public. But let’s be honest: how many people actually went through all those documents? And what incredibly sensitive information was there to begin with that had an immediate impact on the world? NONE. All that information, according to several spokespeople from the White House, was information already known or not dangerous. Yet, why were they classified in the first place and why did the government raise such an incredible fuss over it?
It’s pretty much an exact repeat of the Nixon administration during the Vietnam era where the government told us one thing and did the exact opposite. What happened to the notion of governmental transparency? The government is made of people who we elected to run our country for us. So why aren’t they telling us all the things that we NEED to know?
Oh, I dunno. Maybe the government, in fact, is really only a playing field for the influential and the wealthy. But I digress. You can search on your own how the gov’t froze wages of almost all public workers except CONGRESSMEN and the PRESIDENT. And you can search up how veteran senators have their own secret luxurious chambers funded by our tax dollars. It’s funny; these people were people we trusted to do what’s right for us and yet they indulge themselves with our money.
3) Why aren’t you doing anything?
I hate politics. I hate economics. And I’m not a US citizen. Yet, how is it that I virtually see nothing - no complaints, no ragings, nada - about the way our government is being run (other than posts by the diehard conservative Charlie)? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. It’s not the people running the government who are at all fault. It’s the apathy and ignorance of the civilian population that will drive us to the ground.
What we have to realize is that the US alone is consuming almost half the world’s resources at the expense of almost every other country. This over-indulgent lifestyle cannot be maintained indefinitely - we convince ourselves that nothing will happen to us. We’re the invincible United States of America. And yet, every second our national debt accumulates yet another thousands of dollars and commodity prices for household items such as gas, eggs, wheat, and milk are shooting up.
It’s your obligation as American citizens to be informed and to tell the government what to do. At the very least, you should keep up with current events. Don’t stay in the dark - that’s what the government wants.
We are literally killing ourselves through our super-luxuriant lifestyles.
We can’t do this anymore guys.
Or should I say, YOU guys.