Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Problems of the World

In this world we live in, many people have many problems.

There are children starving in Africa.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender, Dan Ellis, continues to lose sleep over his measly 3 million dollar contract.

The president of the United States has to deal with, on top of everything else, accusations that he was born outside of the Milky Way galaxy.

Even contemporary philosopher, Jay-Z, claims to have ninety-nine of them.

Everyone on Earth has problems, and many share the same problems. But for all the overlap, there are relatively few people complaining about my new problem: being a white male.

Yeah I know, boo hoo.

And for every way that it will be a problem, I'm sure there will be a hundred embarrassing benefits. But I don't like to stand out. I want to blend into new environments, like a tall, inept ninja. In the Netherlands, I could just keep my mouth shut and/or express a dry sense of humour and I fit right in. In fact, I've never been somewhere where I could be identified as “foreign” on sight.

It makes me uncomfortable. So sure, it's not as bad a problem as starving in Africa, but it may perhaps be on par with at least a few of Jay-Z's troubles.

San Fernando is small enough (100 000 people, give or take) that I'm likely to gain some degree of recognition after some spent wandering about town. I'm given to understand that there are few white people there, excepting the current interns and an endemic problem of old, white sex tourists.

Or perhaps these are the predictable fears of a nervous narcissist. Perhaps no one will notice me at all. Here on the very edge of my departure, the uncertainty is such that I'm not sure which eventuality would be worse.

So the only solution, for now, is to contextualize the problem.

At least I don't make 3 million dollars.

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