While bodies are being tied to trees to keep from floating away, families are divided, and New Orleans' streets are left ghostly, I'm enjoying a nice martini at the Melting Pot in Fort Collins. It's my friend's twenty-first birthday and I'm feeling a little bad. In a country where such individualism and power of possessions are rewarded, not too far away, this idealism for thousands of Americans has been washed away, almost as swift as the martini I just drank.
The main separation and problems in life I've witnessed have all been tied to those with and without. You'd be surprised what someone would do if at one moment they had everything, and the next moment they had nothing. The problem is the ones with possessions and a comfortable life will never quite realize the misery of having nothing unless they experience it. This is why it is hard, especially for many who attend CSU, to be immediately affected by the hurricane. This isn't exactly an inner-city ghetto we're living in, and the horror we see when we switch on the news can be easily switched off. We live in an instant, individually pleasing society. We don't have to see the bad if we don't want to.
It wasn't until our little dinner party was over and the expensive bill was slyly placed on the table with a flashy grin of the waitress when my thoughts returned to the hurricane refugees. How close does something have to be before it becomes a strong reality? How many people do we have to know of living in poverty or violence before we do something? We've become so indifferent and immune to tragedy in the media that that's exactly where it stays-in the media.
I've realized our society's attitude, unfortunately like my own sometimes, is like the chain effect of voting. Armed in our career ambitions and self-reliant attitudes, we have been flooded with the advice to push and perfect ourselves – that in this race to the diploma and corporate dream, we've become a little oblivious to the ones we're not competing with. Sometimes, we're so oblivious we forget we can change things.
Yeah, beer at Hughes, parties and football games are more exciting to talk about. I don't really sit around conversing in a dark corner about social problems either. But I just don't know many of my friends who seem interested in the busloads of refugees coming to Denver. And if I do have a conversation with somebody about Hurricane Katrina, it's over in a minute, as if somebody lifted up and down the pause button on the remote. For a brief second we all feel bad, then continue down the road toward our own stress. Our sandwich-making jobs, midnight cramming sessions and intoxicated nights on the town don't leave us much time to think about the events on the news that'll probably go away soon. Just in time for another tragic event routinely takes over. I hate to sound cynical, but maybe another martini isn't such a bad idea right now.