Saturday, September 26, 2009

OUR PERFECT WORLD



I really do wish someone can 'tell me how to get to Sesame Street' (as the song goes).  Won’t it be divine to live on a street like that, where everyone is accommodating, taking time to help each other out, polite and sensitive to each others’ needs?...a place where there doesn’t seem to be any need for money because familiarity and friendship seem to be the only relevant currencies, and socio-economic stratification doesn’t seem to exist?...a place where even the ‘monsters’ are pleasant and immeasurably optimistic?

These days we all seem to need a dose of Sesame Street, or at least the idea of it.  Fall has officially arrived and though I’ve said multiple times before that this is my favorite season, it also signifies more challenges for me as a parent and a citizen.  This seems to be true more so now than before given the relatively new social concerns that confront us these days.

Up until last year for me, fall just signaled the need to avail of the regular flu shot for yourself and your children.  This year, you also need to worry about the H1N1 flu.  As if I’m not yet sufficiently paranoid, I now have to think twice (or more!) about taking my son out to some public play area this time of year.  I was hoping to be able to take him out more despite the colder weather and perhaps just visit some indoor play facility.  However, the thought of taking him out in public and him being with strangers, touching what every other child  has touched, freaks out the germophobe in me.  And speaking of public places, we now also need to worry about MRSA and other resistant infections.  Might I also add other concerns I have as a parent that have nothing to do with the season?...concerns such as my son contracting e.coli, salmonella and lead poisoning through toys.  Oh and of course there will always be the fear of child predators.   

Not only is there a fear of the diseases (both biological and social) themselves but also of the economic repercussions.  The painful truth is that this is just not a good time to get seriously ill because of the cost of health care particularly here in the U.S. (yet another social disease).  The current economic recession that the U.S. is barely trying to survive doesn’t seem to have fully ended.  Though experts say the recession has crested and that better days are inevitable at this point, no one can ever be too sure, too secure.  No American these days seems to be getting a full night’s sleep, secure in the thought that their job, their primary source of income would still be there the next day, and everyone here knows that ‘no job’ practically translates to ‘no health insurance’.  And how many people can truly afford health service in any shape or form without the aid of insurance?  That is the sad truth and much as I hate to admit this, I have never felt so economically insecure in my entire life…not even when I was living in the Philippines.

Let’s add one more variable to our never-ending equation for inducing modern-day paranoia…terrorism.  Just this past week, Homeland Security elevated the security alert in Chicago and warned that Al-Qaida may target public places such as hotels, stadiums and mass transit systems.  Come on!  Can they challenge my ontological security any further?!!

I am willing to bet that today, by far, is the most difficult time to be a human being, let alone be a parent.  It is particularly in this milieu where, perhaps more than ever, we find forces beyond our selves impinging on our daily lives.  We not only need to constantly contend with forces within our immediate spheres but also with global ones which we often feel we don’t have much control over. 

What I just wrote above may seem familiar to those who have read C.W. Mills’ ‘Sociological Imagination’ (S.I.).  Simply put, this refers to a way of thinking, a ‘quality of mind’ as Mills calls it, that allows someone to see the interconnections between ‘private troubles’ and ‘public issues’.  It is a frame of mind / a way of looking at the world or events as intersections of the personal and the social / the private and the public.  It is the ability to understand your biography as intertwined with history.  In these insecure and overwhelming times, one cannot afford not to possess such a quality of mind.  It should be common sense to realize that everything creates a ripple effect.  You are part of the world, just as the world is as much a part of you and your daily life, whether you like it or not.

Though that thought---that each of us and everything in the world are more connected than we'd like to acknowledge---may seem daunting to some or just plain bad news to others, there is immeasurable reward in embracing this.  Not only does it humble all of us, it also underscores the fact that we are all not as insignificant, nor inert as we perceive ourselves to be.  Other than having the power to act on things and even initiate changes, every issue that presents itself to us urges us to evaluate our values, both on a personal and societal level.  Whether we are confronted with 'issues' regarding our own sick children, or the way our society treats the sick in general, such crises force us to ask ourselves what is important to us, what our focus should be and what goals we want to work towards.  

It would be ideal if everyone agreed on core values and fought for those.  I don't think it would be such a bad idea to suggest that we all look to the utopic world of Sesame Street, where everyone is accommodating, taking time to help each other out, polite and sensitive to each others’ needs;  where there doesn’t seem to be any need for money because familiarity and friendship seem to be the only relevant currencies, and socio-economic stratification doesn’t seem to exist;  and where even the ‘monsters’ are pleasant and immeasurably optimistic.  This doesn't seem to be a bad place to start, don't you agree?   

  







1 comment:

Let me know your thoughts!