by Joe Courter
I got hooked on World Cup soccer almost 30 years ago. There is something wonderful about such a simple game, which is played world wide, and the gathering of teams from all over the planet, with their varied ethnic and cultural differences, going head-to-head (sometimes literally, unfortunately) that make me feel a oneness of humanity. That said, and especially with this year’s tournament in Brazil, there is a huge cost required by the host nation which is borne by its citizens; displacements of poor people, and money and resources, which could have been used for health care, public services and education, being put into stadiums that may only see limited use in the future. I think about this as I watch World Cup (well, not actually during the game); how wrong is this for me to be getting such pleasure from something which has had such a negative impact on the lives of other humans?
How different is this from the other guilty pleasures many of us enjoy in our lives? Modern life gives us tremendous options for guilty pleasures unimagined and unavailable to every preceding generation on this planet. The pleasures abound, just think about it; our food options, our entertainment options. As I write this I am reminded that there are a sizable number of people who don’t share in this bounty, for whom the day-to-day struggle to survive leaves little room for the pleasures so many take for granted. But this is also where the “guilty” comes in. Modern life, through its information technology, can make the reasons we should perhaps feel guilty much more available. We don’t live in a bubble of ignorance, of not seeing or hearing from oppressed people and being aware of injustices all around us as prior generations did. Modern life has actually accelerated the amount of injustice, exploitation, and oppression happening as corporate culture has taken hold of our economy, so not only can we see it, there is more of it to see! No, we can’t claim ignorance, but we can be blamed and perhaps ought to be a bit ashamed of our ignore-ance; the self-induced bubble of self-interest trumping collective responsibility.
I am not one to advocate avoidance of pleasure; human life is too short and pleasure should be part of it. I also don’t want people wallowing around in guilt, that does nothing. Take in your pleasures, but also make part of your life increasing the pleasures of others in whatever way fits your time, talent and interests. And I know many of you do. We live in a great town because there are so many who give a damn and have figured out how to do stuff that benefits others in addition to the regular stuff they “have to” do. D