Zero World Problems


Poverty & Wealth

Nah, this isn’t a post claiming there are no problems in the world. That wouldn’t be true. Instead, this post is about problems that mean little to nothing in my personal sphere.

Let me break it down to you:

  • A Third World problem is there being no clean water in a village. The people there are already eking out an existence and have no choice but to drink from a stream that is used as a toilet. The infant mortality rate is high and the villagers don’t receive the medicines they need.
  • A First World problem is my internet connection is down. In addition to not being able to waste time on Facebook, there’s a report due for school. The inconvenience is having to drive to my local library or another friend’s house to get access to WiFi.
  • A Zero World problem is the rich and famous bickering over some bullshit that seems to matter to people in the First World who cannot define their own existences without celebrities. The “problems” of these so-called stars don’t even enter the realm of the starving mother trying to nurse her infant from breasts that can no longer produce milk.

In our First World society, we have the time and luxury to tune in, log on, and be privy to things that aren’t even real challenges: two women on a reality show squabbling and behaving badly in a five-star restaurant; two male stars whose feud has become the latest tabloid sensation.

It has occurred to me that the role of the First World is to stand around and be envious of those that breathe what we deem to breathe rarified air. We don’t realize we’re attempting to make deities out of human beings who may sit on a golden toilet, but their shit still stinks.

The tragic thing is not so much the idolatry but the failure to launch on our own behalves. We feel we can live vicariously through the rich and famous, while struggling to keep our lights on.

I remember the opposing views presented in A Bronx Tale which put things in perspective. The main character, C, has a loving, blue-collar-working biological father, played by director Robert DeNiro. As part of father and son time, they listen to the Yankees play on the radio as the dad drives his bus through the city. Following his father’s lead, C idolizes Mickey Mantle.

C’s other paternal influence is the tough-as-nails, take-no-shit neighborhood don, Sonny (Chazz Palminteri, on who the C character is based). When C regales Mickey Mantle, Sonny knocks him back down to earth. He asks his young sidekick, if he and his family were out on the street, would the baseball legend come to their aid?

The epiphany jacks up C’s world view.

I’m not bashing folks for being famous or even wealthy. I’m pointing out that we “regular people” are so quick to give a flying fuck about the lives and situations of people who already live in their big houses and drive their expensive cars. We’re a lot less driven to make the improvements to our own lives. That makes about as much sense as standing around in the gym for an hour a day, socializing and believing you’ll get in shape by osmosis…

That said, I’m going to pick up a book and work on building my own empire. ‘Nuf said.


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