A Land of Paradoxes

Isn’t this a country of paradoxes? For every good thing I see here in the USA, I could easily find a counter example to say just the opposite. As one continues to stay on, one will see lots of examples of paradoxes.Here are a few examples:

Consider value for life. There is no doubt that back in India, we don’t have any value for any life form including humans. In America, however, there is tremendous compassion shown even for animals. Even for animal testing for clinical work, they have  detailed rules & regulations and  any violation is taken very seriously. On the other hand this is also the country where millions of animals are slaughtered every year for eating meat and on special occasions like Thanksgiving day, the number of Turkeys massacred is countless!(more than 45 million Turkeys are killed, according to one estimate)

The other day I went to a pharmacy with my relative and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the pharmacy doesn’t charge for post-natal multivitamins for women. I was told it is part of state’s nutrition assistance to mothers after child-birth. The govt also gives special concessions to families once an infant is born(child tax credit etc). I exclaimed to my hosts: Any society that gives so much care to women and children is utopian. My opinion changed the very following day  when we had a discussion on medical insurance and skyrocketing medical costs.

On another occasion, when we went to a supermarket and the farmers’ market,  I was amazed at the choices(can you imagine a full isle being devoted only to jams of various kinds, to give just one example).There is variety and choice everywhere and the shopping experience is unequalled, although back in India, we are also catching up. But this is also a place where consumerism is worshipped. People have been brain-washed to believe that shopping and spending are part of their true nature! The conditioning is so complete that people are led to believe they are saving and not spending when they shop! For instance, when we went to a super market, shopped and made a payment for 75USD, the person at the counter promptly informed us that we just saved 40 USD! The logic is that you spend more to save more! Would you call this freedom or conditioning?

Of all the paradoxes, the one related to energy consumption shocks me.When I saw a lot of news on energy-saving devices, technologies, R&D expenditure, and reports on environmentally conscious actions such as recycling plastics etc, I was simply amazed at the concern being shown. However,consider the following statistics:This country has historically wasted a lot of energy and is still doing so. The per capita energy consumption is a whopping 7.6 tonnes of oil equivalent versus a paltry 0.6 in India.

What about the standards of health in this society? The answer is, yes and no.One would think it is great, if one is talking about parameters such as physical health, longevity etc. However, if one is talking about mental health, the situation is entirely different. For instance, in the place where I stay (Okemos,MI), there are 30 listed psychiatrist (known as shrinks) for a population of around just 20,000, which means  there is one shrink for every 70 people! Compare this with one of our densely populated cities like Mumbai. For an estimated population of 13 millions, the number of psychiatrists may not exceed a few hundreds( roughly about one shrink for every one lac people?). This shows the level of psychic problems people face in the USA, which is a definite sign of spiritual bankruptcy!

There is order and disorder, there is value for life as well as complete lack of concern, there is freedom as well as conditioning, there is passion for saving energy and irresponsible energy consumption, there are well conceived welfare policies as well as unaffordable medical costs, there is great emphasis on improving health and decreasing mortality rate and at the same time a steep decline in mental well-being.

I think in the USA today, fulfilling basic needs of the poor is constantly in conflict with the unlimited human greed of the rich and the famous. This reminds me of the famous remark of Mahatma Gandhi when he was asked what he thought of the western civilization. He said: I think it would be a good idea!

 

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Published in: on April 30, 2014 at 2:07 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent article Athimber! I totally agree with the paradoxes here.. You were right on in this sentence.. – “The conditioning is so complete that people are led to believe they are saving and not spending when they shop!”

    • thanks – priya


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