I don't much get on a political soapbox anymore; I generally can't be bothered to care about political things. Well, I care deeply, and that is why I can't let myself get caught up in it. Unfortunately, we just don't make much of a difference on a large scale so my being upset about things only increases my blood pressure, but doesn't phase the system at all. I am mostly disgusted by our government, by how it treats its own people, by how it spies on us and has pissed all over the fundamental values of the Constitution, by how big money and big business consistently trump people-focused policies and intelligent spending of our tax dollars. I will be thrilled to be on the seas, off the grid, and none too long under the thumb of any particular authority. I don't like or respect authority because authority doesn't like or respect my freedom. Authority pretends to protect my freedom, but all it really does is trample it.
So, what inspired this little political rant on my soapbox?
I recently read an article about slavery worldwide today. It is good to see someone bring attention to the reality that slavery remains a widespread practice in our supposedly modern world. I think the article sugar-coats it a bit, particularly when it comes to Haiti, and it entirely fails to mention how it arrives via Haiti to the United States. Anyone who thinks the Haitian immigrant community in South Florida hasn't brought restaveks along is very much kidding himself. And one is also wearing blinders if he or she thinks the young girls are only enslaved as housekeepers; among their household duties they are often expected to sexually service the men in the household--and the lady of the house may well be the one making sure they do so. It's a cultural mindset that won't be soon or easily broken and one I don't like seeing imported to the U.S. In any event, slavery has likely existed from time immemorial and will likely never be eradicated. Deep-rooted cultural views that simply don't value human life, and less so those of women and children, are prevalent in the areas of the map where slavery is most abundant. But those of us in the more affluent, and supposedly more enlightened, areas of the map shouldn't kid ourselves that slavery isn't in our own backyard. What can we do about it? I don't know. I sure wish we had Khaleesi to come set us all free.
While I'm on my soapbox, I'll share an odd little story. A few days ago I jammed my finger hard into a door and it may be broken. I don't have health insurance and last time I went for an x-ray to see if a finger was broken it wasn't...but my bank account was. $500 for that emergency room foray. Oh, sure, politicians want you to think it was actually free to me because us uninsured people never pay and just burden the system. But the reality is that uninsured people like me get not one band-aid free...we are the ones paying the full price that the insurance companies are not paying. We're the ones subsidizing the insured folks who get over-treated for every silly sniffle. Oh, wait... I wasn't even going to rant about how forcing me to buy health insurance just rewards the insurance companies who are the problem while rubbing salt in my broke-ass wound... no, this was going to be a totally different rant.
So... I did the best I can without seeing a doctor and buddy-taped the injured finger to its neighbor. It made my job a bit challenging, but I wanted to protect the finger as best I can. And if it's just a sprain, it will heal up better being buddy-taped. There's a guy at work who tends to talk too much nonsense in my opinion, like telling me I need to marry a Latino guy because then I can just stay home and the guy will pay all my bills. (The kid clearly doesn't realize I'm an over-educated professional. Or that I did marry a Latino once.) Well, the cute little comment this guy had about my taped-up hand: "Don't you know you're not supposed to resist? If you don't resist you won't get hurt."
Hmmm. It took a minute to sink in. Oh, of course, he was making a joke about rape. Because it's such a hilarious subject and all. I'm one strong, independent woman and I'm not too easily offended. I know the kitchen guys probably say all kinds of sleazy stuff about me once I walk out of the kitchen, but I'm thick-skinned enough that it doesn't get in the way of my doing my job or make me feel threatened. I hate the political correctness police and don't think people have some right to not be offended. If you aren't getting offended now and again, you are living in an isolated vacuum with no fresh or challenging ideas circulating around you. But to joke about rape...yeah, that actually creeped me out. It's not as if I feel threatened by that guy; if he laid a hand on me he'd lose his hand before he knew what happened. I believe in meting out my justice hard and quick on the spot. (That's why when friends drop by late at night and board the boat, they are usually yelling "Don't shoot, don't shoot, it's just me!"). But it reminded me again, like the article about current slavery, that there are cultures and people who just don't value human life, or women, or even animals much at all. It makes me sad for the world and makes me look over my shoulder a little more.
Freedom is a recurring theme on this blog. Liveaboards and cruisers often seem to dance to a different drummer, to seek a life outside the control of conventional society. Much of that freedom we seek is a conceptual freedom, to be free of societal constraints. Some of it is about self-actualization and feeling one with the universe, the sea, and the stars. Those sorts of freedom are important, valuable, and to be prized. But I also live hand-to-mouth most days, often not knowing how I'll pay a bill three days from now. Financial freedom cannot be underestimated, and, indeed, the only value I see in money is the freedom that it buys. As important as these kinds of freedom are to me, there are many others around the world, even here in the US, that do not have even basic physical freedom and safety, who are quite literally slaves. I don't know what, if anything, we can do about that. But I'll try to appreciate the freedoms I do have a little more, and work a little harder toward greater freedom for myself and perhaps the world.