Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Look at us, all living little superficial lives

Today for the first time I asked myself a question: why did I not choose to become a doctor? I am a perfectly capable young adult, just at the point of my life where I can choose what to do for the rest of my life. What I'm going to do with the rest of my life. I've always ruled off being a doctor because tbh, it scares me. I'm not strong enough to deal with the responsibility of having so many lives dependent on me. But now I realised how stupid that is. Stupid and naive, as always ignorant.

I was researching for my design brief today, and stumbled across this album of photos taken from the Sichuan earthquake in China, 2008. 70 000 killed and more missing, injured, and god knows what else.

I've never seen anything that's shocked me more. Just looking at it makes me feel horrible. Makes me feel so, so sad. And some photos make me feel like I'm feeling the pain... yet I know I can't even begin to comprehend the scale of their pain, not even a little.

I feel like this is what the apocalypse would be like if it ever happened, this sort of pain escalating all over the world simultaneously. Then I realised how stupid I was. Again, how naive and ignorant, sheltered, selfish, horrid and horrible. This sort of death and disaster is happening all over the world, all the time. Every second of every minute, and every minute of every hour. Out there is someone suffering such an unfair, unjustly delivered pain. 

It's amazing how stupid we can all be. Living in our ignorant and superficial, oh so superficial lives. Everything seems shallow and extravagant. The chicken there I had for dinner? What? Why am I forcing myself to eat fried chicken that I don't even want to eat because I'm already full? Why?? There are people out there with no food, for whom starvation is a cruelly prolonged suffering they endure till death. Perhaps as I bit into that piece of juicy chicken, a child just died somewhere in the world from lack of any food. Oh the cruel irony. I feel sick. Sick at myself and the lives everyone around me lives in. Because I know. We know. Everyone in this developed, safe little nation knows there are people less fortunate in other parts of the world. Of course. It's common knowledge, too common perhaps. People don't feel it. It's not their business to care, it doesn't affect them. Most of all, they only feel the apathy, sometimes a little sympathy perhaps, but certainly not the empathy.

Even those who are doing things to fight for these causes, a lot are doing it without real feeling. Sure, they put up a passionate and compassionate affront, spreading awareness, running charities, events, the whole shizzaz. But when it comes down to it all, who can really truly understand emotionally, their suffering and need? No one but those who've been there, seeing these atrocities live in front of their very own eyes, the death, illness and suffering perhaps only an arm's width away. They could reach out and touch it with their very own hands. Then, everything would be all too real. 

Everyone sits in their own little houses. I am right now. Junk on the kitchen bench. At least 5 electrical devices in a 5 meter radius of me, all ranging over 1000 probably. There's a huge amount of unwanted food lying around. I feel bloated from dinner. I feel sick.

I know what the counter argument is. There isn't that much we can do. We can't give up everything in our own lives. But can't we give up a few of the many and exponentially accumulating, unneeded and sometimes unwanted junk that's just sitting around in our everyday lives, simply adding to our richness and spoilt, superficial lifestyle?

And most importantly, the point that started this debate in my head, there is something we can do. Well I can do. And most people can do too. And that is, do something with my life to make a difference. Whether it be become a doctor to treat people, people who are dying, injured, suffering and are in need of any sort of relief, no matter how small; or to become an engineer, builder, build new homes and new lives for people who've lost everything; or perhaps most influentially a political figure, a leader, a CEO, a boss, someone who will have the power, money and resources to make a difference in all the suffering.

So many of my friends want to become doctors. Perhaps half do it for the money. But they're all doing it. And they will all save lives. A small comfort, but one nevertheless.

My friend once asked me a while back, perhaps only a year ago (although it feels like half of my life for some reason) - she asked me, "Omg Jeannie you're smart I don't get it, why do you want to do art? Why don't you become a doctor or something and help other people!"

I've always denied her logic. My reasoning was that I was helping people, I was going to entertain them. Give interest and creativity to their boring lives, give them something to think about. But now I can see how completely superficial that is. Why do I want to learn things like philosophy? An investment for myself, but all it does is produce intellectual profit for me, I don't give anything, and I won't be able to give anything out.

Right now I'm looking at my design folio on an earthquake fundraiser. Then I look back at these photos.

I feel like I'm going to cry again. I feel like my heart is being strangled. It can't breathe anymore, and I want to invent a new meaning for the word 'sad'.

I look back at my earthquake designs where I tried to communicate the feeling of disaster and sorrow. They look pathetic and naive and utterly shallow and superficial.

I hate the fact that now I feel like the naive, ignorant, and stupid little girl that I am of course, talking about big things she has no idea about, things she can't even begin to understand, and still, just knowingly spewing up big words of a depth she doesn't know or will ever live up to.

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