A Not So Merry Christmas

Christmas in ThailandFor hundreds of millions around the world, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. It’s a cherished time to spend with family and friends enjoying great food, drinks and abundant consumer goods. For billions of others around the world, Christmas is not so merry.

Poverty and abuse in other parts of the world don’t really matter, as long as we have our oversized houses, gas-guzzling SUVs and an over-abundance of goods produced in factories on the other side of the planet.

Life is Damn Good.. if you are one of the Haves.

If you’re reading this post, your life is pretty damn good. You are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on this planet. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how lucky we are.

All the opportunities I’ve had in my life were because I was fortunate to be born in a wealthy country. That only happend because my great grandparents, on my mother’s side, and my father escaped communist Eastern Europe for a better life.  If I were born in Haiti, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, North Korea or most countries in Africa, my life wouldn’t be so good.

You Are What You Buy

We don’t really care about the working conditions and salaries of those third-world workers that pick our fruit or make our goods. Nor do we want to be responsible for the environmental costs of shipping, packaging and disposing of everything in our throw-away society. Cheaper is better. We make our decisions about what we value on this planet, every time we open our wallets at a cash register.

We are not outraged because a billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water. We don’t really care about the tens of millions of children in the global sex trade. We are happy to close our borders to refugees just searching for some basic dignity for their families. Our lives are pretty good so why change? Helping others means we might have to share a little of our wealth.

The Church of Shopping

Let’s all take a moment to give thanks to the corporations that bring us cheap consumer goods and giant shopping malls. Consider the alternative for a moment. If we weren’t consumers, we would actually have to get involved in our communities, befriend our neighbors, spend more time with family and loved ones and take active roles in politics. Thank God that we have something better to do with our lives.

As our materialism and consumer madness culminate in a massive orgy of excess on this Pagan holiday of Saturnalia, co-opted by the Christian church to celebrate the birth of a supposedly white Middle Eastern Jesus, lets all go to bed fat and drunk in our consumer stupor.

The world didn’t end on December 21st, but it may someday soon, at the rate we are ravaging the planet. It’s best to get as much as we can for ourselves before that day comes.

Parting Thought

As you spend time with your family this holiday season, please take a moment to think about how bad your living conditions would have to be to send one of your children to work in the sex trade. How desperate and hopeless would your life have to be? There are millions of people living in those conditions now, and few people care. Well the pedophiles and sex tourists here in Thailand probably care.

We should be outraged, but it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Merry Christmas.

 

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

2 Responses to A Not So Merry Christmas

  1. Good post, I take it you’re not a Christian ; ) Fortunate by birth, some of us are, I am for sure. Big business has put the ma’ and pop shops out of business and forced them to be greeters at Walmart. Big business puts children to work in dangerous factories for wages that can barely pay their bills everyday in SE Asia. Most people in the West could care less and don’t even know what’s going on, as long as the prices of Nike shoes and tools at Walmart don’t creep up too much, life is good. It’s not good for anyone, except the greedy fat cats, who can never get enough.

    Pedophiles are bad, sex slavery is bad. Prostitution (two consenting adults) isn’t as black and white as most Westerners would like to think especially when it comes to SE Asia (or anywhere for that matter). As far as sex tourism goes, most people like to think that it’s gross old guys dating young vulnerable Asian girls (the “victims”). In many cases the old guys are being just as exploited as the girls who are working, maybe even more so, and it’s not just old guys anymore.

    Most people who bash prostitution have never even been with a prostitute, known a prostitute, or hung out in places where prostitution happens. With that being said how informed are these types of people to be passing judgement? Rather they’re usually just regurgitating a bunch of non-sense they’ve read in the media, or watched on TV (since this is where most Westerners obtain their knowledge of the world).

    I know a handful of Thai girls that have normal jobs, that pay well by Thai standards and who still choose to prostitute on the side for money; they essentially get paid to sleep with guys they would sleep with regardless. I know plenty of bar girls and go go girls that have met good men that they’ve married and who take very good care of them. I see bar girls turn down guys all the time, especially older men, or the races with darker skin (African American, African, Indian, etc); trust me, they have a say in who they leave the bar or go go with.

    Now there is no doubt that there can be a dark side, but that can happen with anything, the Catholic church (sex abuse), even in ice skating (Nancy Kerrigan)!

    • John says:

      Hi,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      I’m not bashing prostitution, I bashing the poverty that causes that prostitution and the human-traffickers that prey on those disadvantaged people.

      There are definitely examples of women and boys who voluntarily choose the sex trade because the pay is so good relative to other opportunities they have. However, I don’t think that infers that a large percentage of people in that industry enjoy the work. When incomes are low and people are desperate, they will take more desperate actions. Poverty is the problem, not voluntary prostitution.

      In Thailand in particular, social mores are fairly lax and incomes are so low, that for many women and boys, short-term dating with a series of foreigners is very common. Obviously, the gifts and quality of life they get from those ‘relationships’ is enough enticement to be more sexually liberal with their bodies. However, money and the small chance of a better life, are the primary motivations. I think it is probably a stretch to say that it would occur anyway even if the financial incentives were not high. I doubt if there are many that would prostitute themselves for free (or even the light prostitution of temporarily dating foreigners), just because it’s so much fun.

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