Friday, May 22, 2009

What is Home?

What is home? Many people tell me that I am lucky becase I have the oportunity to stay in the US where I can make more money and have a "better" life. There is truth to this, I can make so much more money in the US but what is the trade off? I think having lots of money is great but only if you can help or empower others. 

Recently, in the past four years I have revaluated what I think is important in my life. We all question what is the meaning in our lives. Some talk about family, some talk about friends and others talk about religion when they can not explain the or their "meaning of life". Some people's meaning in life is to be a "______" (fill in with whatever profession). Their job is their identity. My job is not my identity but one small thing that is only "part" of me. My identity is the many things I do, my feelings, values and how I treat others.

As we get older (no, I do not think I am old, but I am not 20 anymore), we all go through changes, obviosly, this is the cycle of maturity. When I first came to the USA, I was amazed at all the material stuff people could buy and everything worked like the eletricity and water and services were great. America seems to have everything but the feeling of places (for me the city) is much diferent than in a favela. I know what you are saying, how can you compare one to the other? Well you can but only if you have lived in both places. I have lived both in the favela and in a city in the USA. I am sure suburbia or rural life is diferent. I am only talking about my experiences.

My "home" in the USA is simple but there is something diferent about the enviroment, not just social class or buildings, but how people are. People and cultural norms are diferent. I can only speak about where I live in the US and living in Rocinha. 

Here in the US after working, I go home to a empty house, neighbors that hide, people that do not want to engage in conversation? Why? The US and the people that live there think they are free, but I do not see fredom, I see fear! Everybody is afraid of everyone. Just look on the bus, nobody talks to each other unless they are friends. Everybody else hides their lives in their book or ipod. Just trying to ask directions in this city and people dont want to help. There are some, but they are in the minority who will stop and listen. Most people think that you want something from them, like money. Everybodys "too busy". This is a lonely place when you have to make "appointment" to see your friends.

So, I have more money but I am lacking human contact. I am not talking about sex here as most americans would think. I am talking just basic communications with others of the human race. 
There are seven days of the week and I am lucky if one day a week I get to just hang out with friends. So, I spend most of my time with music, exercise or writing. And saving money for my dream to build the community center in Rocinha.

In general, I like people becase I learn so much from being around others. I do not want to always be around people who have my same interests. I want to know a little about many subjects. 

I think US culture likes it where everybody does their own thing.  The culture wants it this way becase if you are too busy supporting that "American Dream", what ever the F*** that is, then you do not have time to create communities and bond as humans.  As you are working your butt off to pay that mortgage, car or keep the kids in private school, you are too stressed to think about the injustices the goverment is doing. Do you know the goverment likes it when you have huge credit care debt? Another way to keep your mind off the real thing of whats going on. This is not just in the US, this is everywhere. 

Read "Behold a Pale Horse" by William Cooper, and the section on "Silent Weapons for Silent Wars" and then you will really get what I am saying here.  

A culture of drugs and large corporations competing for your money. So artificial, yet so clear for me becase I was not born here. If you are born in this you do not see it as it is something you are just used to. So strange for me to watch tv here and see tv commercials pushing drugs for varios "ailments" that they try to convince the US people that they have, but really do not. What good is a drug to "cure" you of one thing but the side efects give you three other bad things?

We just accept what is becase we are born into it. Just like me growing up in Rocinha pushing the "rola rola" (water container) up the hill. It is something we just did and never questioned if there was another way. Growing up in the favela is no party, life is dificult but it is simple. What I mean is that the work, just to live, is hard but its not to complicated to dig a ditch so somebody can pour ciment in the hole. The thing that I miss here in the US is the sense of community and family. If you do not know somebody, they are a "stranger", you must automatically fear them. Every place have bad people but it is a small percentage. But if you believe the news and tv they make it sound like 9 out of 10 people are bad. But if all you see or read is about murders, rapes, abuse, drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic problems, then you tend to think that this stuff happens on every corner every minute of the day. 

The average family in the US of married couple with two kids aspires for the house, car etc, but at what price? So to attain this in most big cities (where the good jobs are), both parents have to work. The kids are sent off to day care. So, what we have is other people rasing our kids teaching them who knows what. So, when your 3 three year old comes home and say the "F" word, your surprised? If people didnt worry about keeping up with the neighbors and lived within their means, this would not happen. The mother could stay home and the family could survive on one paycheck. The kids would be raise in the stable enviroment and really get to know their parents. Now, by the time the kid is 5 or 6, the video game, tv or computer is the "baby sitter" becase both mom and dad are way too tired (from working), to give the kid(s) quality time together. Is this raising a child? 

Family is number 1 in other countries. In the US once you turn 18, your parents are trying to force you out of the house. And shame on a society that wants to put their grandparents in some "old folks" home. Independance is nice but these things I will never understand. I xan only speak about Rocinha. We had many "parents" in the favela that looked after us. If both parents had to work, there was always somebody you knew well, or grew up with that would help out. Not some stranger that you know nothing about. There is always something to do in the house in Rocinha and it does not always involve a tv. We learned how to make our toys out of what ever we could find, and we played with any and all kids. Life was simple, no video games, no computers no artificial stimulation. We would listen to music on a old radio, dance, and laugh. We would go up into the woods and swim in the lake or walk in the forest and play games. Most of our entertainment was outside playing footbal or any other game where our friends were included.

So, now that I am older, I look back and miss these simple things. Yes, I have more money but at what cost. Can I say I am really happy? I have to say, no. I go to work and my fellow workers can see that my mind is not there, but in Rocinha. I have thought out the pros and cons to both places. I know my place is not here in the US (as nice as it may be for others), but back in Rocinha, where I have my family, values and the simple life! I am in the proces of setting up some business there in Rocinha not only to help myself but other people there too..

"nem melhor, nem pior, apenas diferente!" 
"not better, not worse, only different"