I could only imagine what this man who had lost his country of
nurture must have been thinking and feeling
September 3, 2004
Let them eat cake. -- Marie Antoinette
Yesterday was one of those days from the twilight zone in which
I thought that I had taken leave of my senses.
I was called in by my best client who is an electrical consulting
engineer to come take a look at
a project we had worked on for a school district. When I arrived
I discovered that the electrical maintenance supervisor for the
district and the consulting architect were also there.
For over an hour the four of us were escorted from classroom
to classroom by a very stressed out and rude lady principal who
insisted that she could hear a high pitched whine coming out of
the light fixtures I had sold her school. Try as I might I could
not hear the sound nor could the other three professionals in our
entourage nor could the lady classroom teacher herself.
that women could hear a higher range of sound than men but by
the same token, an electronic ballast alternates at such a high
that the sound it may produce is well beyond anything the human
race of either gender is capable of hearing.
Besides the only teacher
who also claimed to be able to hear a whine "only when the
lights were first switched on" was obviously sucking up to
his boss. The old fixtures which the electronic ballasted new ones
replaced would have been capable of producing humming from their
old style electro-magnetic ballasts but not these. Perhaps they
had gotten so use to the noise that they missed it and imagined
they could still hear it.
Meanwhile all kinds of whines and whirs were coming from window
case mounted air conditioning units on various portables and buildings
all around the campus all the while that this chief administrator
was lambasting us about the lack of acceptability of the fixtures
and how she didn't think she should have to pay for them and she
didn't care what OSHA standards were if the noise distracted even
one ADD child they were not acceptable. As the father of two ADD/ADHD
children myself I couldn't recall either one of them every claiming
to be distracted by noisy lights.
I really strained my ears and mind listening for an imaginary
sound that did not arrive. I began to wonder if we were all suffering
from some form of "arctic hysteria" and the engineer
and I even at our own detriment tried to be sympathetic and told
her that we might be hearing something but weren't sure if it were
from the lights or some other appliance like the hvac.
Meanwhile it had taken me about 2 minutes to figure out that
the architect was Persian and we immediately hit it off both making
disparaging remarks in Persian about hormone replacement therapy
and the like. I could only imagine what this man who had lost his
country of nurture must have been thinking and feeling.
I myself kept flashing on mental images of crowds of Afghan refugee
girl students sitting in rows on the bare ground trying to learn
how to read and write from itinerant teachers using portable blackboards
having been denied education for an entire generation by the former
Taliban. The Taliban, another creation of the CIA.
How spoiled have we become as a nation? How out of touch have
we become with the reality of life in the third world and our contribution
to its low standard of living? I am not just a bleeding heart liberal
railing about social injustice. How will we ever stop terrorism
if we act like first class citizens in a world where everyone else
is suffering? And how much of the suffering is due to our economic
practices and failed foreign policies?
How often have you passed a beggar in our streets without offering
I am reminded of another Persian friend of mine,
a school psychologist who took issue with my statement that there
were no beggars in Iran and no matter how poor they were they
all sold something even if only Gerdou. She said that when she
a school girl she would encounter an old lady beggar everyday
on her way to school and would spend time talking to her and always
ended up sharing her bag lunch with her.
The point is that third
world countries share the same problems as advanced industrial
nations only the people there have a personal relationship with
those who live around them. Here a person could literally drop
dead in the street and it is entirely possible that no one would
notice. It is possible that you can live next door to someone
for two or more decades and never know their name or enter their
under any pretext.
How often have you passed by someone with a vehicle breakdown
without stopping to help? How often have you helped a neighbor
with a scheduling problem by driving their child somewhere or sitting
with them? What must our society look like to these traditional
cultures? What personal responsibility do we take for our actions
and their effects on those around us?
It is always some institution
or organization's responsibility that we defer to or refer to,
never ours. How many law suits have there been when a simple phone
call or a personal visit might have defused the problem? And where
is the logical conclusion to the direction our "civilization" is
headed? You can literally spend hours being bounced from one electronic
voice to another without ever speaking to a real human being on
It seems that as technology conquers the globe that
there is less and less room for humanity. We are made to look at
machines as our role models. They are considered cheaper to hire
and more accurate and unemotional. Our culture admires the quality
of being icy, aloof, emotionally removed and they call this state: "Being
Well as far as I'm concerned it is not "Cool" to
be "Cool." All the bitch goddess princesses with their
cash registers for hearts can screw themselves. Everyone needs
a healthy dose of compassion as their measuring stick for human
worth. I don't care about how many tens of thousands of dollars
you have spent on boob jobs and nose jobs and liposuction; who
have you been nice to lately and what was your motive?
Yet human nature doesn't change regardless of modern society
or traditional. The need for embellishment; for status, for showing
off remain the same. Instead of the biggest feather headdress it's
the most expensive biggest car. It doesn't even have to be pretty
just big like Hummers.
In Papua some men wear gourd necks over
their peckers to make them appear huge; here the sports cars are
the dick extenders for all the midlife crisis men. (I wonder if
Viagra has impacted the sale of sports cars?) And of course the
difference is that here nothing is personal. No one knows who they
are keeping up with, Jones's or otherwise nor have they personally
made any of their accoutrements but only bought what producers
have made for them. It all becomes very abstract. It is always "they" whoever
The herding instinct is still here. If you don't conform you
are ostracized whether it means you have to wear Nikes or pig tusks...
perhaps the future salvation for humanity becoming nicer and more
compassionate and less driven by greed and ego lies in genetic
engineering. Perhaps that is God's plan to let us re-engineer ourselves
for our own salvation because it's all in the wiring and if that
wiring doesn't change we are going to destroy ourselves... and
our ecosystem along with us...
.................... Spam?! Khalaas!