Monday, September 19, 2005

Voluntary Experience

by Skald

Ive had a pretty charmed life, in terms of material and economic factors go. Ive never (involutarily) gone hungry, or gone without decent shelter. Ive had all the education I needed (far more than I needed, in fact).

I know many people like myself. But I dont understand many of them. Many who have had similarly charmed lives are filled with hatred and contempt. They accept their good fortune as a sign from "God" that they are superior. They sneer at those with less money, fewer opportunities, the wrong color skin, the wrong accent.

Why? My guess is fear. First, they fear losing all those trinkets and cash that they have, in fact, done very little to deserve. They are terrified of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and the like. That fears makes them hateful and mean. They turn that hate on that which they fear: the homeless, the impoverished,.....

Another deeper fear, for some, is that know they dont really deserve their superior position.. they sense, deep inside, that they are lucky. And they are terrified that luck might run out.

These people need to suffer. Its the best answer. Preferably, they should suffer voluntarily. Experience, direct contact, and suffering often breed compassion. Its easy to dismiss fearful boogie-men when all you do is read about them or scurry past them (ie. homeless people). But if you've actually lived homeless for a while, talked to homeless people, had direct contact with the difficulties of that experience..... you tend to be less afraid, and more compassionate.

Living semi-homeless (in my car, and later, a van) was one of the best experiences of my life. And one of the most genuinely spiritual. Most people consider reading a fucking book and going to a building once a week as "religion". But to my mind, genuine religion (spirituality) must involve an expansion of awareness and compassion.

That does not come from an overly translated, obtuse book. It only comes from experience.


nongThip said...

I thought a lot of people want to have the best experience like you but life so different.You are single and no need to carries much responsibility as most of people do.They need stable house,stable job cos they have their family to take care while u dun need to do it.The more we handle the more we regret.Lucky you A.J

Anonymous said...

Fear, but also the complete inability to comprehend what the life of those other people is like. I did not understand until I spent 2.5 months in a developing country. The Gates foundation and Pew Trust have talked about a program that would allow any US teen who wanted it the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in a developing country doing service work. I think it would be damn near the best thing that could happen to the US, if the 17 and 18 year olds were able to see, at such an important developmental stage, how the rest of the world lives.