Don’t worry, we are all going down the same tube.

On April 1, of 2010, I had a passenger from Nigeria by way of Ireland and what he had to say about his impression of the Irish was not just shocking, it was disheartening to say the least.  Working in the corporate world he has an insight to the attitude of the Irish toward the wave of immigrants that have entered that country since the 1970’s.  It is not a shock that like all immigrant populations, those in Ireland are resented, it’s the fact that the Irish, who survived British tyranny, are openly racist and intolerant.  That is not so much a shock, however, it is very disheartening.
It is an international phenomenon that any immigrant group will be seen as stealing jobs from the native population.  But the fact is that Ireland, according to this fellow,  agreed to accept all these immigrants who are legal refugees in order to get loans from the International Monetary Fund.  Now the money is all gone and a slew of immigrants,  some of who have no problem being on welfare (or the dole as they call it), are still present leaving a powder keg of resentment.
Then on the 7th of April a British woman & her son were passengers in my cab.  We talked about various topics.  Life in the U.K. as it is now.  The congestion charge, the attitude of the traffic wardens, things that show the similarities between life here and life there.
When the conversation turned to the topic of immigration the woman mentioned how she helped a gentleman from Lithuania immigrate to the U.K. with his family.  She assisted him in opening a business, filing the paperwork to apply for the licenses, and in finalizing the immigration process.
The most intriguing thing she mentioned was that she gave him the keys to her home and that she would not trust a Brit in the same position.  She feels that the immigrant population has a better work ethic.  They show up for work early and that they leave late.  The quality of their work is far superior to that of their British counterparts and, due to the disparity between pounds and the various Eastern European currencies, they work for less.
I see the same thing as far as the immigrant population in the States is concerned. They are resented and seen as stealing jobs from Americans.  However, the various treaties such as G.eneral A.ggrement on T.rade & T.ariffs and  the N.orth A.merican F.ree T.rade A.ggrement have removed the types of jobs such as factory worker and call center operator from America and moved them to other countries.  The majority of the work done by the immigrant population that I have worked with are all off-the-books jobs with no benefits, no security and no future.  They accepted the jobs because the money that they made afforded them the ability to live with several others, about seven people in a one bedroom apartment and then send the majority of their income back to their native countries.
One has to wonder why?  What has happened to the native Britons that this woman feels  they cannot be trusted? What has happened to Americans that many of us feel that we are to good for certain types of employment?  Why is it that only now are most Americans willing to admit that our society has debilitating short comings?   In many U.S. films the heroes are con men and thieves, so perhaps it is the popular culture and it’s promotion of vile behavior.  The promotion of the villain who does whatever is necessary to achieve his aims has become a prevailing theme in many films and television.
It boils down to hunger.  I noticed the same phenomenon when I listened to music. I was a big fan of the hip hop genre, as well as a writer and amateur performer.  Most artists who were seen as talented were not able to maintain any longevity.  I came to the conclusion that what changed in them was that they were no longer hungry.  They had achieved a modicum of notoriety and were in all likelihood given whatever material wealth they desired.  And thus the hunger that kept them sharp and eager to break through the veil of obscurity into the light of fame was lost when they perceived that they had achieved their goal.
Like these ‘one hit wonders’, I see many of us in the west as too comfortable.  Most of us don’t have to worry about where are next meal is coming from. There are more and more forms of entertainment that distract us from the important decisions that are being made, mostly just under the radar; that is to say that many important events are barely mentioned in the newspapers and never in TV news.
I was listening to a lecture in which the speaker noted that as of now, the Western world is relatively safe.  But imagine a collapse of any government in the West.  The country in question would immediately fall to a level of barbarism within a week or two.  Especially if food became scarce.  We can all see these troubles just under the surface of our lives, the quite tension we feel on a packed subway or in rush hour traffic.
As Americans, we can all say that there is a void in our lives. We make vain attempts to fill this void with our addictions, and we are the most addicted society on the face of the Earth (be it drugs, alcohol, work, shopping, gambling, sex, etc., etc.). On some level we all see that this void is not present in the immigrant population, not .  Thus, we resent the fact that their lives are rich and their bank accounts are small; while many in our society have gone into debt to feed the gorilla on our collective backs.
A big obstacle we face is the fact that our culture has become one of instant gratification.  For a detailed explanation of how this happened I recommend the Adam Curtis documentary “Century of The Self” readily available on google video.  It chronicles the demise of cultural norms, that had been in place for thousands of years, by marketers working with psychologist in a concerted effort to make more money by selling products that people really don’t need.  It can even be said that it was these marketers and the fantasy life they sell in commercials and print ads.  A world in which simple acts like brushing your teeth gives you orgasms, where everyone is under the age of  65, or at least they don’t look like it, where disinfectants and hand sanitizers ALONE are enough to  keep you from getting sick, where drinking beer make scantily clad young women and men magically appear with volleyballs and music emanates from the air around us.
While the real world is not that way and we all know it.  However, the aforementioned marketing strategist and psychologists have used our collective and individual subconscious desires to create this fantasy world as a tool to make us purchase things we really don’t need, things that most immigrants have done without and therefore, don’t really miss, except perhaps conceptually.  Consequently, if we were to give up our need for ’stuff’ perhaps our lives would be richer as well. Unfortunately, many immigrants are falling fro the same bill of good we’ve been sold on.  Inevitably they will be swallowed by the same beast that has eaten our souls and left us mere shadows of our former glory.


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