Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome to Unstable

Last week before I went to a dinner party, I got a note from the host…

“Be forewarned there like to be a transit strike tomorrow. No subway, gas stations likely to be closed, so limited taxis. Plan accordingly.”

So life in the third world can sometimes be a little unstable. Take your pick, depending on your locale: dictators, money that loses it’s value from one day to the next, riots, protests, coups, wars. In addition to the Subte last week, there is also a crazy government that is cooking the books and just took everyone’s Social Security. People here are used to it, especially after the whole economy collapsed in 2001.

It depends on where in the third world you live as to the extent of it, but part of life is accepting that tomorrow things may not be the way they were when you went to bed yesterday.

Sometimes shit doesn’t work that was working just fine yesterday. The price of something can climb for no reason. Every bus charges a different price, even for the same route. Three places on the same block can charge three different prices for the same thing. Sometimes there is no logic to what is happening around you.

This is such a huge contrast to life in the US, where it mostly is how it is stated. For so long, life was stable. Or we thought it was stable. We didn’t have to worry about the wars somewhere else or the unstable of economies of wherever. These things were not important, they had no impact on our lives as we continued to live high on the hog.

But now it’s all coming to roost.

Life in the US right now is anything but stable. Everyday you read about people losing their jobs, their homes – the things that make up life in capitalist driven societies. But maybe it’s time to look past those things and recall what remains when you can no longer depend on those other things – people, experiences, the journey and not just the destination. When you can’t rely on the tangible things like money and work, you start to realize that maybe they were never that stable anyway. You just convinced yourself that they were.

In the third world, many people have seen how unstable things can be. Enough to know that to wake up in the morning and not have people in the streets is stability.

I realize this may not make my friends up north feel any better, but just giving you some perspective. Most of the world lives with instability, so welcome.

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