Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In the middle or the side: Where do you lean?

A growing tendency that one observes in many western countries today involves the loss of balance or, when it comes to bargaining, of the 'happy medium'. Such extremes can be of various types. Examples? Sure there is an abundance! In the US for example where a big part of the population is suffering from obesity, one can find some of the most obsessed-with-calories and gym-freak people in the world. Similarly, you can have the world's unhealhiest foods and snacks (i will spare you from naming some, particulalry those non-US friends of mine) and at the same time you see the law requiring nutritional information charts on everything including water and fruits. Of course one may argue they serve different purposes (i mean by that that a nutritional label chart on a water bottle is to explain the minerals included such as sodium etc). Then there is another type of extremism, one which operates in the realm of decisions and choices.

I have no problem with that. I don't have a problem either with the fact that different people choose different styles. After all, diversity is a good thing to occur. However, the fact that one sees on so many issues such stiff opposition, and no possibility of convergeance, is in itself problematic I believe for many reasons. It is not by coincidence that 'balance' and 'happy medium' are glorified across countries and cultures. If it were not for its benefits, we would refrain from using 'happy', right? Also, the truth of the matter is that when you have extreme polarization it is also quite difficult to reach consensus, and some things do require reconciliation or agreement (here I am not refering exclusively to food).

So, am I arguing that extremism is bad? No! In fact when it comes to such issues as ideas, viewpoints, politics etc it is good to have voices or behaviors or whatever is not complying with the majority reach the surface. This is very healthy, because homogeinity is also unhealthy. For this reason, and in order to avoid confusion, it is important to examine and analyze the different types of extremes that one can encounter, and, more importantly, the causes that justify such behaviors. What I am saying is that the people standing on the extremes, and as such differ from the ones in the middle, project their difference and they do so with a purpose in mind. Or else they are victims.

Victims? This brings to a core concern of mine whereby the cases of extremism that we experience are not resolute choices but, rather, are consequences of what is close to 'controlled behavior'. And this diversity I don't like. And i don't like it in particular when the extremes grow stronger than the rest. Whether it concerns marketing strategies that promote unhealthy snacks or rhetoric about an 'X' ideology, extremism that comes as a result of pressure, of whatever kind, is to be despised, because it violates our liberty, one of the most cherished of all our rights. And one should be particularly cautious nowadays when employing either freedom of speech or of market to justify otherwise questionable actions and motives.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On people...

We, human creatures, are very selfish: we don't feel grief unless it touches us, we are not grateful for what we have unless we lose it, we worship ourselves leaving everyone else that is not friend or family out (sometimes, sadly there is no room even for them in the bubble we have created for ourselves). I do not intend to delve further into this reality nor do I pretend to be a moralist. Still, I cannot help but observe how day by day we the people of the western world converge precisely towards that one single dominant "human model". Interestingly, right now, I hear a commercial on radio which advertises a website that, supposedly, is going to help us organize our "shopping". hahaha. We thought that with shopping we would solve "the family-holiday-burden": what an irony huh? Another commercial: "lighting boosts the Christmas spirit". Cynically i cannot but observe that the Christmas spirit is not powerful itself, it actually needs some assistance.

The commercials are now over, now we listen the Christmas songs, whose spirit we, by the way, embody right? Sarcasm on the side, I can see that there are exceptions, I do not intend to generalize. Hopefully i will be proven wrong by all the people that are out there and I just cant see them. Hopefully what seems as a "one-way road: you follow me or you perish" does not exist in reality, it just seems so. Bory, you, surely, would have been one of such people, you would have made the difference.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

If orange juice had a soul and a voice what would it tell you?

This obscene title is the best way for me to introduce something that happened yesterday, as I was riding the bus, yes the bus nothing to do with food here! It was late Friday afternoon and the bus/shuttle, was PACKED, and i was the last person that "made it". Riding a bus can be a somehow diverse experience. It is one thing to ride the bus sitting on a seat behind the driver, and another to be pushed against the door with no space to move or breathe. I am sure this is no news, I am sure so many of us have been through that before.

So the orange juice experience comes when the lovely driver of the shuttle, without any warning, decides to drop the "content" of the bus two blocks before the anticipated/established shuttle station. No sooner do the doors open and i find myself "dropping" (falling down). The fact that I was carrying groceries with my left hand contributed too, as I had this extra weight which prevented me from taking any action. So wanna know want happened? I did not fall down, because instinctively with my right hand I grabbed the arm of a girl that was very close, and we both "dropped" (or were dropped of) the bus, LIKE the first drops of any liquid in your Tropicana (or Amita) orange juice container.

Lesson #1: Be kind to whatever you drink, the way down to the glass was not an easy thing for the first guys!

Lesson #2: It is at moments like that, that you realize what it means "to be in the shoes of others". Good thing for those claim knowledge of so many things they have never really tried!

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