With everything that is happening in the world today it is hard to turn on the television and not be assaulted with the amount of suffering going on. In California we know it is only a matter of time before a devastating earthquake comes our way. Dwelling on this inevitable day does no good, the best thing to do is be prepared and hope that you are driving in a car with an earthquake kit (and not wearing high heels), or that you will be at home and not in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park. That said, Joshua Tree might be the safest place and the best vantage point (perhaps your last view) to watch the San Andreas Fault do its thing.
Los Angeles is bankrupt. There is money somewhere, all you have to do is drive around and see the conspicuous consumption. But the day the earth shakes and our freeways collapse, our homes shake from their foundations, our ancient schools fall to pieces, I wonder if other countries will urge their people to send aid? The global economy is a mess and honestly who is going to care about people in Los Angeles? San Francisco will get plenty of love but it’s about due to burn to the ground again, isn’t it? That city has more ghosts, and such a wild history of disease and disaster it is hard to imagine people living there at all. But human beings have a history of living in flood plains, and snuggling up to fault lines. I can’t even begin to think about the inevitable earthquake in New York City (yes there are nasty fault lines there too).
I am hardly a charitable person. If I can “spare a quarter for a fellow American who is down on his luck”, I do. But since I am a poor person living in a rich area, my charitable deeds have to be more creative. In my opinion charity should begin at home but that’s usually the last place people are giving…and forgiving. A few years ago I tried to encourage some locals to give me old clothes, blankets, books, basically anything to an unknown town out in the desert. It seems that in Thermal, California there is a community of immigrant (please read The Southland’s Third World Slums) workers living in trailers without the basic necessities such as heat, water and the occasional light bulb. This (I believe) is the least of their worries because their “settlement” is near a dump or some kind of open sewage. My apologies for not remembering exactly, I couldn’t bring myself to read the article again.
It’s funny how lazy people were about giving me things. It wasn’t that they didn’t care but they just didn’t seem to be quick to help. Some just said they gave to other charities. That’s fair enough. Anyway, I packed my car in preparation to drive to the person who was doing the “collecting”. This person was somewhere in the wilds of San Bernardino (San Berdoo as some call it). I called and called and called, left messages, had one returned but never made contact with the person. Ultimately, I drove to the desert, and my collection was given to a charity in Yucca Valley. It’s too bad really because there were some very expensive items in the mass of stuff. Someone in the know could have made some serious cash. I hope someone needy did.
I don’t know where I’m going with this exactly but somehow I want to get back to the topic of suffering. At the time I was attempting to do “good”, I kept thinking how one visit by some uber-celebrity like her holiness Angelina Jolie or perhaps the suspiciously perfect George Clooney, would send people up in arms. A whole new neighborhood would probably have been built in a week. Clothing, food, and all the vital items for living a healthy life would magically appear and all would be well for these poor people. Honestly, a quick helicopter ride to the desert from Los Angeles, (half a day if they stay for lunch) and the media alone would be like a magic wand washing away the horror. Instead we get to see these fabulous people doing good for other countries, other states, other cities. Here we are in the city that has given these people their Godlike status…
Listen, I’m aware that some of these people quietly do good things but wouldn’t it be nice (for a change) to see old George screaming about the injustice of a town only 2 hours from Hollywood along with screaming about the Sudan? Spread the love and sell your Lake Como house dude. You can’t go there anymore anyway because too many people know where you live.
Yes, admittedly this is a jumble of emotion, and confused ideas. But here we are again with yet another massive, hideous tragedy being asked to give money to the Red Cross. By all means give it if you have it but where does it go, and how quickly? Really – I don’t know. Haiti is a burning example. I just wonder why it’s more glamorous for people to be seen doing for others outside of their own town. There is plenty of poverty (in many forms) in Los Angeles, trust me.
And don’t get me started on trying to just get people to come to the beach and watch Autistic kids surf! It’s the beach for God’s sake, it isn’t South Central!
(For those that know I usually swear like a truck driver, I hope you are noting that I do not use four letter words in my blog…but sometimes I want to.)
Who needs a tragedy to give? On a smaller level, how about your neighbor, your sister, your brother, your wife, your husband, friend or stranger? What needs of those you love are you ignoring while you do anything possible to change that which you think you can control? Try being nice to your aging parent instead of tar and feathering some knucklehead politician. Some of you might even need to learn to give to yourselves, hmm?
Is it more important to call people ugly names and wish them dead because they do not believe what you believe, be it political or otherwise? What is up with that anyway, so much violent speech and so little tolerance for an opinion different from your own? As Dionne would say, “where is the love?” Do you really think I am going to agree with anything you say if you are yelling at me? Teach me baby, don’t preach me; I’m listening, are you?
Lastly, (I think) about 3 years ago I had a holiday party with my new/old Facebook friends from the days of yore. It was a large mix of very interesting people and far more successful than any party I’ve had in the past. As the night wore on a small group of around 15 ended up in my studio listening to music, smoking illegal substances (not I) and being jolly. When I entered the room it made me laugh, but then a woman approached me. An old high school chum, now the wife of a well-known conservative talking head; she is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met, a good wife and a loving soul. Her husband was doing battle with the mostly hardcore liberal humanoids in attendance, and could clearly take care of himself.
This beautiful woman approached me and quietly said something like “Why can’t people leave me alone? Why do they think because my husband is a well-known conservative, that they can come up to me and tell me he is awful and that I should leave him?”
I immediately asked who had said this to her and she said the worst offender had left the party, but that many of our old pals felt it was fine to attack her regarding her husband’s politics. Later she told me that some of the mothers at one of her kid’s schools had done the same thing. I find this so incredibly sad. It’s like condemning American soldiers because YOU don’t believe in war. While it’s true that in this world there are some people with no redeeming qualities, and seem to be the walking embodiment of pure evil, this woman’s husband isn’t one of them. He is a good father and husband (this counts) and to some, a good human being – if not a tad bombastic.
Why do we feel it is okay to cause suffering because we do not agree with someone else? I can love you even though I disagree with you. Isn’t that something? Isn’t that kind of ignorant vitriol just a sign of…well, ignorance and fear? Or perhaps as my brother likes to say: “They have mommy/daddy issues.”
So beware Angeleno’s, we may not get a tsunami because of where our fault line is but when the ground shakes and your perfect life comes tumbling down and you find you are not prepared, will you take help from someone who does not live the way you do? If that person’s life crumbles, will you open your door to them to give them shelter?
Personally I’m all set for Armageddon (with a few minor exceptions), I just hope a fire doesn’t break out and burn all my books, I might end up like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone… 🙂
PS. I think my Zombie Survival Guide; Complete Protection From The Living Dead will come in handy when the big one hits the Westside.
- California “big one” expected to pale next to Japan quake (reuters.com)
- Major quake would devastate California (capitolhillblue.com)
- West Coast nuke plants: Are they safe? (marketwatch.com)