Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's Going On?

Sitting in the barber shop today, I was randomly thumbing through a magazine when a quote came flying off the page like a paintball and splattered itself all over my brain. At the very least you would think it could have gotten my memory going again (I don't know where it is these days), but no, here I am, forced to paraphrase: "A lot of people are on to the emptiness; it takes real guts to acknowledge the hopelessness." My barber was still working on the head of a four-year old, so I allowed myself to ponder.

What does it mean to be courageous in these trying times? Does it take courage to admit we are living in a hopeless world? Are we lying to ourselves when we claim the world can be a better place? Here we are into the 21st century, at the pinnacle of scientific and technological advancement, and yet according to the World Bank, half the world's population, 3 billion people, are forced to subsist on less than $3 a day. The Ivy-League banking brains on Wall Street found a way to trash the world's financial systems, and yet, they couldn't find a way to simply clear away the garbage that rots in mounds in the slums of Mumbai and Nairobi.

I am trying hard not to be cynical, not to be negative. I guess it doesn't help that the HIV clinic I have been going to for the past five years told me I couldn't come anymore because they've lost a lot of their funding on account of the financial crisis. We're bailing out the banks and the insurance companies and the automakers to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, but I can't see my doctor anymore. Will someone please tell me that this calculates correctly? That this all somehow makes sense? I can't make sense of this world anymore. I'd hate to think it took me this long to figure out that it's not supposed to.


Joey said...

you can lose hope for mankind, but try not to lose hope for yourself. the one thing we can hope for is more hope...

the way I grew up learning, since I was a little kid, be it having a Buddhist upbringing or otherwise, was the simplest and first truth that "life is suffering".

everyday that we are alive should be considered a miracle. at least i do.

i hope you find alternative resources for your medical care. keep your head up JT. there's still some good out there.

Luuworld said...

the world is crazy, all we can do is to look for happiness where we can find it.

Planetx_123 said...

Where is the quote from? I know I have read it before.

I am a pessimist, and I firmly believe that humans will make bad decisions when given the opportunity. I think our consciousness, culture, and collective intelligence has grown faster than evolution can keep up. The result is that we make poor decisions, based on primitive, vestigial emotions (greed, etc), and can't see more than a foot in front of us to understand the ramifications. Our entire capitalistic system (quarterly reports, etc.) is based on this short term to sacrifice the long term idea, and we pay for it all the time.

Where are the superheroes? These intelligent people that try to understand an entire situation, and make a rational decision to better all. These men are few- they don't run our companies or our government (although I'm still hopeful for Obama).

Bottom line is that I believe that humans have to evolve culturally and intelligently before anything can really change, and I don't see how that can happen. So I have no hope for the future in my lifetime.

I am sorry to hear about your clinic- that is absolutely awful. The 'investor class' on wall street should be ashamed of themselves...but they are not...hopeless.


dannie said...

you'll find another place, and all we can really do is hope for the better.

J.T. said...

Thanks guys for your words of support.

Joey: I actually heard myself repeating to myself "life is suffering" as I was waiting in the cold weather for the train that was a few minutes late. If life is suffering, does that mean "happiness is an anomaly"? As I get older, I suppose it's only natural to see more and more people around me dying. It's just very sad at times.

planetx_123: All I know about the quote is that I read it in an issue of New York magazine. I'm not sure how old or recent it was, though. I agree with you 10000% when you talk about how our consciousness and culture have not kept up. A lot of that is due to technology. As one who once practiced law, I can assure you that the law--never mind our values and ethics--is desperately struggling to keep up with all these technological advances. What morality we once had is quickly being shredded away by the forces and demands of money and science.

There are anthropologists out there who believe that Western society has gone mad. Literally. We are insane. That there is nothing humanly natural about dividing time into 24 brackets, which are subdivided into 60 brackets. The excessive reliance on the health of 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q numbers have driven businesses worldwide to the brink of extinction. There used to be a time when humans were guided by the sun and the moon; by the pull of the tides; and took their cues from the other animals. Now we are guided by bosses; stuck in traffic jams; and kill all the animals around us, including humans, in the name of economic development and progress (God help Africa, and the Middle East and Pakistan, and the black kids living in America's inner-city neighborhoods.)

I think Obama is trying to shift America's line of sight to envelop a broader view of the future, and importantly, of itself. Whether he succeeds is highly doubtful. For far too long, Americans have been stuck in their cubicles with little concern as to what happens to the larger body.

I know that I am not the only HIV+ person out there looking for a new doctor. A lot of us have no medical insurance which is why we need these clinics. I know I have no one to blame but myself for my HIV status. I guess I'm tired of blaming myself all the time. I'm tired of knowing that I can never forgive myself. I don't want to die just yet, but this sure isn't living.

Raven said...

I hope you find another clinic soon. It's shocking to me too -- although not surprising -- that the big companies and the financially irresponsible get bailed out while normal people pay the price.

I don't have much hope for our world as a whole. It's not going to change or become a better place. I think all we can do is hold out hope for ourselves as individuals, living the best lives we can and hoping that those we touch will be influenced positively by us. If everybody did that, the world *would* change.

J.T. said...

Thanks Raven. Everyone here seems to be saying that we've got to live the best lives we can. But as you imply, if "the best" encompassed the best for the person next to us as well, the would would change.

Rob said...

Ugh ... I have to admit, the idea of not having medical insurance is scary. A friend of mine got diagnosed with HIV (I am afraid it's probably AIDS at this point based on his health issues - self denial is the worst when it comes to HIV) and he won't be able to see a doctor until Monday when his new health insurance kicks in.

Health care reform is overdue and I hope Congress doesn't mess it up.

I do hope you find a good alternative health care provider.

Big hug.

J.T. said...

Thanks Rob,

As you might be aware, my father was recently in the hospital for two weeks. The bill came out to $38,000. Luckily, he did have insurance. An acquaintance of mine who bills at a hospital said they rarely chase after people with $50,000+ medical bills--you can't get blood from a turnip. It's the uninsured people with bills of around $20,000 that see their lives turned upside down.

My heart and prayer goes out to your friend. I hope it's not too late for him. When I was first diagnosed, I had a t-cell count of under 200 which by most standards is already full-blown AIDS. But thanks to the meds, and a lot of support from my family, I was able to turn things around and my t-cell count has been stable at about 1000 for the past two years. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Rob said...


I've blogged a bit about my friend. It's pretty depressing. It's not just his health which is taking a turn for the worse (he looks really sick and needs some blood transfusion) but his personal and professional life had been going downhill for some time (long story).

I wish I had a deeper insight into what he is being going through because I feel that at some level he might have been subconsciously trying to commit suicide (I'm not sure if crystal meth did cause all of this or if it served as an excuse).

I wish it was only HIV which was the only problem with him but he needs to make many changes to his life to pull through (at least it seems he's not doing drugs now).

The whole situation makes me very sad and angry - at times I'm angry at him as in "why?" (of course I don't tell him or show it, what's the point?) but most of the time in general I'm just angry at the existence of the virus and how too many gay men do seem to go through similar drug + HIV related meltdowns.
I do hope he pulls through this one.

J.T. said...

UGH... I did not know crystal meth was playing a part in your friend's life. As you say, I hope he's not doing that shit anymore. And I hope someone is there for him when he needs it.

I've tried to access your xanga, but I can't.

Planetx_123 said...

Just FYI- because it was driving me mad- the quote is from the film "Revolutionary Road". This is a good example of its brilliant screenplay/writing.

Much Love,

Rob said...

I've opened it up to non-registered users again.
There's also an older blog entry on my blog about Erik, a 24 year old friend who died of AIDS in 2008. He always claimed to be safe but I guess we won't know ... what I do know is that he did not get tested regularly and by the time he did get diagnosed in December 2007, he had full blown AIDS and had developed lymph cancer. He passed away in May 2008. There were no drugs involved in this case but he's the first person I've been close to who died of AIDS.
That said, I do know a sixty something survivor (he is neg) who did lose all of his friends in the 80s to AIDS. So I guess we are doing a lot better.