Everything I (Won’t) Do, I (Won’t) Do It For You
There was a popular Bryan Adams song, “Everything I Do, I Do It For You.” I think I was in 4th grade the first time I heard it. It made me want to find a girl like that, someone I’d do anything for. That was where bliss lived.
And though we’re protected from realizing it, that mentality makes us Americans dangerous. If I’d do anything for the person I love, who wouldn’t I harm to ensure her happiness?
I always ridiculed the “you complete me” crowd. Then a woman put me back together, and I promptly closed my mouth. I find myself saying stuff like that to her all the time now, and thinking it far more often than I say it. Just this morning I caught myself typing, “You are my everything,” in an email to my partner. I backspaced out of those corny words, but never their sentiment.
The human social order breaks down in a time of crisis. When people care too much about themselves and those close to them, inevitably, resource wars will follow. This is how the world will end, someday. If we don’t nuke each other off the planet, we’ll die fighting each other as the planet purges us.
Resource wars—“hot conflicts triggered by the struggle to grab valuable resources”—can be global, as is the race for oil, or local, as in the case of a hurricane ravaged town short on food and supplies.
Who wouldn’t you kill, if they refused to share their resources with you? If there was no food, who wouldn’t you steal it from to feed your family? Who wouldn’t you tell to piss off, if they were starving and begging for your generosity?
The resource wars are already starting, albeit in less hysterical form. Theoretically, resource wars tend to be discussed as if they were a last resort. But we wage them not for our survival, but because we can’t live without the things we want. That’s what makes our resource war in Iraq unlike the ones inevitably scheduled for “Armageddon.” Right now the world has too many people and not enough resources to satisfy all of them. There could be enough, of course, if the West would convince itself to stop craving more than it needs. But why should we? What’s ours is ours! And what isn’t ours, we’ll acquire fair and square, through hard work and discipline and war.
As consumer demand rises, the needs of corporate suppliers increase as well. We want more and more and more, and so someone else will make it, because their nightmare is being unable to supply the things others are willing to pay for, because they too want things they don’t need. So the really powerful men in the NW hemisphere send their less powerful minions to do their killing, because with fewer human beings comes a smaller strain on resources. And from our vantage point, the killing manifests itself in conveniently tame ways—as gas prices dropping, or as the dollar rebounding.
Meanwhile, across the universe, an Iraqi woman waits at a bomb site. Her husband worked there, and didn’t come home today. She stands at the edge of the seething acre, from which they’re recovering pieces of bodies, charred and melted together. The woman can’t face the corpses, she looks instead at pictures of their teeth. Hunched over these images of dead strangers, eventually she thinks she recognizes the one she shared her life with, the one man she would have done anything for.
Can you imagine the body that held you last night as you drifted to sleep, bulldozed away with the rest of the rubble and tiny specks of burnt flesh? Would you recognize the face that presses yours in love, as it melted off of a decapitated skull in the name of someone else’s love, and dripped back into the spongy soils of the earth?
If you had to bury that face, how might you feel about your foreign enemies on the other side of the planet who have the luxury of bitching about gas prices and mortgage rates and baseball players on steroids?
We hate that there is suffering, so we push the suffering outside of ourselves. Gosh, that’s terrible, but what can we do? Anguish is easier to bear when we remove it from the burner, place it off our radar, beyond our control. We look at the suffering that happens now, and it may as well be 1944; old, historical movies from past wars, horrifying events that happened long ago and can’t be changed now.
The pundits remind us that “the economy has now surpassed the war in Iraq as the number one issue to American voters.” But do we think these two issues are divorced? We may pay lip service to the idea that it’s inhumane to fight wars for oil, but anyone can say that. We don’t want to spend more money on gas. We don’t want to drive our cars less often, or ride our bikes to work. We don’t want to inconvenience ourselves. We don’t want to overcomplicate our lives by underspending. No matter how many strangers’ lives we might save, we don’t want to change anything at all about the way we live our lives, because, for all our whining about the war, We Don’t really give a fuck about strangers, do we?
Please, somebody else make the sacrifice. Don’t be so corrupt, Mr. Politician; don’t be so spoiled & greedy, Mr. Business Man; don’t be so dishonest, Mr. O’Reilly. It’s up to everyone else to change, not us. But who pays for this system, who keeps it running, who makes it work? We do. We want, we want, we want; and we take, take, take, take. And they give it to us—with their hard work and their discipline and, oh yes, they’re even decent enough to shield us from the implications, the realities of what we’re taking, and from whom?
Sorry strangers, I can’t “be the change” this year. Nor am I required yet to sacrifice, that will come later. For now, there is a girl, and I will do everything for her. So Die for me, Mr. Iraqi, I can’t afford the diamond ring if you’re alive.