Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reframing the World

When we encounter something, what we think of it will be what is real to us about it. If we were wandering in the dark and suddenly hit something hard, we would think that it is a rock, a piece of furniture, or part of a wall, depending on where we were at that time. But it would seem to be true also in everyday life, except that we tend to have more memories and prior experiences of the same everyday phenomena, and therefore less likely to feel that we were wrong in our perception.

In another country, the same phenomena might have a totally different interpretation and value, even though we might think of it as a thing of common sense. So, it becomes acceptable to work from 5 in the morning until 3 in the morning, just because the boss says so, just because of a believe that justice will prevail, that a merciful and compassionate God looks after the meek and lowly faithful.
 Old Shoes by sharkbite1414

Who wants to be a millionaire? Indeed, our hidden desires might lie in that direction, though it usually remains wishful thinking. Other pressing things like how to pay the bills at the start of the new school term, how to repair the roof of the house which has been attacked by termites, how to remain in the village when there's no work available, or even more urgently for some families, how to get their next meal, let alone a permanent shelter or place to call home.

These pressing needs are some of the legion of foot-soldiers of a nightmare, a variation of the sudden, dark deep hole of "unlucky circumstances" just around the corner, which lurks beneath the consciousness of many people who are not rich, and are getting poorer by the day.


The economics of the rich talks about profits and growth. There is an unrelenting hunger for more, which tends to increase with each successful attempt to get more. For these insatiable beings, nothing else really matters, not the lives of other persons, possibly including their loved ones, and what more the emaciated, deeply tanned and dirty looking beggar and his loyal, suffering family who has stayed by his side on the streets.

In order to become rich, any means necessary are sometimes employed. Including making people work as slave labour, or for as little wages as possible, if at all. There is no conscience, as there is thought to be order in the universe which allows masters and slaves, the profiteer and the profitless.


From these three vignettes, is it any wonder that some of those who decide to work as migrant workers end up with mental illnesses like depression, disorientation, labile moods, and temporary amnesia? In the face of such exploitation, mistreatment, and degradation, at the hands of another human being, the fact that both persons across this material divide share a common humanity is all but lost.

It shatters the idea that a person can be a person, as one who inflicts such pain on another person, or as one who has to endure such inhuman sufferings.

How can these migrant workers reconcile with themselves, in the everyday society which masks these illogical and seemingly evil dichotomies? How does a migrant worker reconcile that within a few hours aboard an airplane, their world becomes benign, friendly, familiar? Do they now see the world in which they experienced love, family, friends, to be only the things that matter? Or are these dark matters shadowing their very lives, colouring their perceptions until hope dies?

The stories of the Nazi concentration camp survivors, and other human atrocities, people do survive. For many various reasons, some of which are due to faith, or personality, or to be more general, just pure circumstance of their own personal experiences, past and present.

Those not so fortunate tend to need help, tough love, space, and support. Some might be irreparably damaged by their experiences. There is no magic or formula that can help each and every one of them. There is no turning back of the clock. What we could perhaps hope for is that with each moment of knowing and sharing about these wretched inhuman experiences, we would stop ourselves the next time we see a beggar, or a squatter home, or a forlorn and crumbling house in the jungle, and wonder, if we are really human enough to accept those others whom we have alienated from our lives.

Wonder, therefore, perhaps if our lives at the moment are really uplifting for ourselves, for others, or for no one. Wonder, possibly, if we can forget about the cost it takes to fight against this despairing, rising, tide of woe. Wonder, of the wonder of wonders, what it is to try to make a difference, to reclaim what it is supposed to be human once more, if it is not too late to do so already.