Choice,low and easy, in 3 payments of $33.99

I have been in America for four days now. I have had slight culture shock overwhelmed by the vast amounts of surplus. I walk into a Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, etc. and think half factiously and seriously “Ah this is America at it’s finest”. We are not lacking any ability to choose in any form, whatsoever. In fact, we may be suffering from our choices.
My first full day at my friends house, I watched TV and was immediately attracted to the “Magic Bullet”. Oh, this thing is a slice of heaven for people who love to cook. It comes with 17 pieces to create great dishes. It slices, pulsates, mixes, dices, and grinds. I was swept up in the multi-functionalism of it until I saw the price. $99 or 3 easy payments of $33.99. That soon ended all fantasies of holdin’ down Martha’s job for her while she is away.

Then I watched a bit of the numerous reality shows that are on, “The Swan”, “American Idol”, etc. I was most fascinated by the beauty reality shows because of the level of participation and expectation that is involved from its participants. Each of the women, and the majority of it has been female participation, has justified their choice to undergo such drastic changes in order to be “more confident”. Code word for: I am not lovable, acceptable; and so on hence I will change so that I can look like something they perceive lacking with in themselves.

What kills me about these shows, especially with likes of “Extreme Makeover”, is the vast amount of women whom are involved. Why are we doing all this to ourselves to change? Where are the men? Do they not desire a change in their lives? Aren’t there some out there that also, want to be MORE CONFIDENT HANDSOME, etc.? Even with feminism, women still have yet get away from that as women, they still aren’t enough. It also occurred to me, that in all this ‘change’ men are being left behind, because they are not “required” by social norms to adapt and expand. Hence this divide, I perceive disturbs me because we are talkin’ from two different levels.

The premise behind democracy as taught to me as child was one has the right to choice. Choose a life that one deem fit for them and have the freedom to express it. It’s all outlined in the Bill of Rights, the original human manifesto. With a surge of personal income and economic freedom, we have become a nation of choices with little restraint. There seems to be a running dialogue in our daily lives that says we must have more, to be something of importance. The more we have, the better we are. I am from the generation of speed, the introduction of microwaves, personal computers, video games. Our parents lamented that we would forget that there is no easy and fast way to having what you want. But that all changed, with people being able to become millionaires and billionaires within shorter amounts of time. It’s a blessing, because we are no longer restrained by outdated ideals that say growth and change are only for “those with____”. But now empowered with ideals that all humans are entitled to choose no matter what your circumstance is. What scares me also about this is that there is a generation growing up thinking, that if something isn’t right within or in my life, I can ‘buy/do plastic surgery/win on a reality show’ the solution. I don’t think we are being empowered by our new freedoms, and vast amounts of choices. We are being slowly anesthetized to a spiritual death by them.

Personally, I think half of the women on these shows, just needed stop their lifestyle choices and eating choices and do it without all the surgery. If they need a little tweaking when done then, so be it. But we have become a nation not afraid to make change as long as it’s not drastic. I would like to actually believe is that I am hearing and seeing are the beginning conversations of learning what it takes to transform. Transformation is lasting while change just alters the form. It think within 5 years, we will begin to see and hear people pushing for things that have a lasting change, which would actual be called-transformation.

Living overseas your choices can be hampered because of language, lifestyle or other elements involved. Or your choice can come to the forefront and become empowering or educational. The fact that one would have to be in there 20’s to live overseas, a hotbed age period where one’s choices are developed and refined; as an expat can have an profound impact on the choice making process.

For one, you are adapting your life to the culture, so what is “right” in that culture becomes integrated into the culture you carry within. And second, you begin to flesh out within yourself, a three dimensional way, seeing how your own choice have impact on the world around you. You are also impacted by how the citizens of the country you are staying in, by what choices they have available to make to form their own lives. All this makes for interesting development.

Before I moved overseas, I never gave much taught to my choices. In fact, I thought I never had many, having grown up in a restrictive environment. As I moved thru the different cultures, I was “taught” by my experiences, that I did have a choice in what was in my life, or not. That these experiences and observations of a new “world” around me helped me refine, define, and expand on what I wanted in my life. It also enabled me to deal with unfinished situations that I was still encountering difficult in achieving personal success with. In short, moving away was a ‘choice’ that allowed me to have a fresh perspective on life. It was rejuvenating and cathartic in a sense.

The friend whom I am visiting, has always been the hero in my life for choices. She to me knows how to make them with out the emotional content that I have when I do. She is wiser than me, and sometimes more perceptive. Yet, her most important life choice has left me valuing the power of choice.

She has a child. The most beautiful one in the world, but it is not a choice I think she would have made so soon. She has shared with me that she is a resentful mother. I don’t think she is one, given her hand on skills with her daughter. Yet, I think that she would have like to have had a point in her life where she looked and said what this choice will do for me as oppose to having to choose after the fact. This endears me to her. Her lesson has taught me a greater love for her and how we handle what life throws at us. How she has handled it with such dignity and grace shows me how flexible one can be even in the throws of a choose we are not comfortable with.

I have an argument I use sometimes called “the Korean dog” argument. In Korea it’s all right to raise a dog to eat as dinner. In America, it’s not. They are our pets. Who is wrong or right in this situation? I believe neither because the dog itself serves a purpose in both cultures. Its our perceptions of the purpose that gets into the moral judgment of it all. There is no “right” or “wrong” choice, something we can spend a lifetime on reaping the benefits, or lamenting to anyone who will listen. It’s our perceptions of the choices that can give us insight, growth, and life. I think now with all that is available to Americans, we are choosing because we are overwhelmed by what we have and the immediacy in which it can come by. We are seeking rejuvenation, joy and excitement; something that marks our growth in life. Something that validates our experience and shows we have impact.

Or maybe we are a nation of knuckle heads, who plainly have too much.


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This entry was posted on May 28, 2004 by in Uncategorized.
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