Friday, September 19, 2008

Fixing A Famine

I heard something on the radio that I haven't heard of in a while, I had kind of thought that things like this had gone away, but it seems I was wrong. What I heard on the radio was about a famine in Africa.

A famine of Bibles.

Yes, it seems groups are trying to get people to donate $40 to send Bibles to poor people in Africa, not food, not medicine, not clothing... bibles.

I find it hard to believe that someone would actually choose to donate money for this as opposed to actually helping out. Let's forget for a second that I'm an atheist, these people couldn't possibly come to a full understanding about religion because their basic needs are not being met.

From the atheist side of me, how can these people think that what poor people - not just in Africa but everywhere - need is religion! I mean, it's one thing to package aid with a religious message, but it's completely something else entirely to only give a book when more is needed. Christian charity indeed...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The American Dream?

Hey folks, sorry about the lack of writing, the last month has been insanely busy with work and now school, though I am going to resolve to write at least three posts a week!

So, I made it through an entire summer working at Wal-Mart - and am still there, incidentally. What have I learned from this experience?

First off, it makes me want to rethink Jonathon Swift's Modest Proposal. OK, maybe not that extreme, but let's face it, this place is overrun with children. More over, people who don't control their children. I feel like an old person when I say this - and that I am joining in a cliché that dates back to the Ancient Greeks - but it just seems that people don't watch their children anymore. Now, this could have just been an idiosyncrasy of my parents, but if my brother and I screamed in a store, my parents would take us to the car until we were quiet. Now it seems as though people just aren't bothered that their child is making a huge fuss in a crowded place, making the experience horrible for everyone within ear shot. This is made doubly bad for people who work there. Alright, I'll concede that this first part was nothing more than bitching, but whatever. Now on to things substantial.

The biggest thing I realized is that there is nothing more alienating than working in a box store. I sort of got an inkling while I was at Target, but I think Target does a much better job at keeping employee morale up than Wal-Mart. The basic thing remains the same: my labor and what I produce are two completely seperate things, resulting in zero job satisfaction. In other words, what I do doesn't affect what I make. Even when I help a customer out, what do I get? I mean, I feel nice helping people, but more often than not, I barely get a thank you. Mostly, I get blamed for not having something that we used to have, and how stupid it is. You just feel helpless because the entire system is beureuacratic and you are nothing more than a pawn, whose purpose can be swapped out by almost anyone on the street. We are told to think of ourselves as "a family" and yet the feeling of your own replaceability hangs over your head, the feeling that knowing what you do is not dependent upon you but rather on a position.

Perhaps, though, I'm merely imposing my values on a job; perhaps for some people this is a fulfilling line of work and it makes them genuinely happy. In fact, I know I shouldn't say "perhaps" for many people it is. At the same time, I often feel when I talk to many of my coworkers that this is situation from which they see little means of escape. And that saddens me...