I am a modern, civilized girl. I am typing this post up on a wireless netbook in America, to be submitted to a man in Australia. I hold doors for people, say please and thank you, and eat with a napkin in my lap. See? Civilized. I would assume that if you're reading this, the same could be said about you. Or at least I would have a week ago. But today, after contemplating a variety of current events and situations, I can't help but wonder just how civizilized we all really are.
The Romans thought they were civilized, you know. With their fancy sandals, numerals, theaters, and bath houses. But what about the Gladiatorial games, barbarians, and human sacrificies? Not civilized. And not so different from us. Look at some of our own forms of entertainment. Boxing for instance. Although participants today are involved of their own free will, amidst better conditions, and earning pay, what about the underground, darker side – politics, betting, crime – and not just involving criminals but prominent, legitimate people. We know these dark sides of our favorite things exist, but we turn a blind eye so that we can continue to enjoy them.
Like the meat processing industry. I can't count the number of people who have said to me, “I know there are cruel and disgusting things going on in the food industry but I don't want to know about it because there is nothing I can do about it and I don't want to change my lifestyle.” I get it. After reading the book “Skinny Bitch” I swore I would never eat meat again. The USDA, some manufacturers, the whole food industry is peppered with corruption and unhealthy practices. But what are you gonna do? You gotta eat, and it's easier to follow the food pyramid and drink the USDA kool-aid than it is to design an alternate lifestyle for my family. So we reject the unsavory parts of our civility, such is our need to be people living in a good world. On the surface, anyway. We don't really care whether or not it's the truth.
Okay, so we overlook animal cruelty and chemicals in our food. But what about murder and torture? A civilized person would never look away from that would they? Married and engaged ladies, check out your ring finger on your left hand. That shining bauble was not dug out of the ground by happy people making a fair wage for an honest day's work. Unless of course it was purchased after 2001 when steps were taken to make sure that our diamonds became the “conflict free” variety. Note sarcasm. My point is - wearing diamonds is among the most prestigious and legitimate things to do in our society. Up to 2001 when President Clinton started the bans on diamonds coming into the States from war zones, that is exactly the origin of about two thirds of the world's diamond supply. Most of didn't know about it, but there were powerful, respectable people who did. And I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of faith that even if everybody in the world knew the corruption and savagery associated with “conflict diamonds” that it would make a big impact on our purchasing habits. Most would look away. It's easier than changing the tradition of getting engaged and married right?
How about human trafficking? I did not even know this was a real thing, such is my need for the world to be a good place. Up until about ten years ago I thought it was made up for the movies. Or only involved a certain type of people. Can you believe that? As if a “certain type of people” made it okay. I think I blacked out in my thirties or something because I can't believe some of the things I have accepted and filed away. Now Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have this campaign to raise awareness to the subject. It launched over a year ago and although I'm sure they are having success, I am surprised by the lack of conversation surrounding it by normal, every day people. According to Demi,
“The truth is slavery globally is a dirty little secret. It is happening everywhere, right in front of our eyes and we ignore it. There are more slaves in the world today than ever before in world history. [It is happening] behind the closed doors of the Internet. Behind those closed doors you can make a purchase on the Internet and feel completely anonymous.”
This is really disturbing to me because if so many people are okay with being despicable as long as it's anonymous, how far have we really come? How different are we than other, less civilized, cultures. Like Syria, for instance, The home of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb – the 13 year old martyr whose story has rocked my faith in humanity and civilization. When I read about Hamza yesterday it hurt so much that I haven't even been able to address the topic for 2 days. I tried recounting the tragedy to someone this afternoon and had to take breaks to compose myself. Other than being highlighted on Anderson Cooper last night, I haven't seen this story anywhere, except for the one mention on Facebook where I first learned about it. I was on the treadmill at the gym today facing TWENTY televisions showing a variety of news and entertainment. Hamza's sweet round face was nowhere to be seen, overshadowed by Weinergate, yet another Republican announcing the announcement of his run for POTUS, and the fact that Trump and Palin ate pizza together using plastic forks.
Look, you do not want to know Hamza's story. But you should. I am not really familiar with the politics and the details of what is happening in Syria, but I know that regardless of the particulars, a government that does this to anyone, much less an innocent child cannot be tolerated. If you're going to have an opinion about actions being taken by world leaders, including your own president, you have to actually KNOW what's happening outside of your bubble. So are you indeed civilized and caring? Or will you turn a blind eye to Hamza's fate in order to preserve your own bliss?