Sunday, February 14, 2010

theory of relativity

I´m not exactly knowledgable about this theory but I do want to use it in a general point. Einstein´s theory, that had something to do with equal gravitational forces on different points of something that was a result of space and time and math, can be applied to all aspects of life, including politics.

Not unlike physics, politics reflects the social, emotive phenomena of relativity. Yesterday, whilst nibbling on miga, sitting under a shady tree in a park in Buenos Aires, my friend and I tried to compare political structures. He, a native of Buenos Aires, tried to argue that the Argentine government is the worst government in the world (a lot of Argentines tell me this all the time). I told him, being a Canadian, and thus, neighbour with the US, that America had the worst government in the world. After arguing back and forth, pros and cons, English an dSpanish, we settled on the American government being the second worst in the world right behind Argentina.

The reason was this: America´s middle-class is bigger which means more people can afford a step-above necessities. However, I pointed out that the gap between the rich and poor in America was larger in the US where there exist bajillionaires (a term he didn´t understand) and pervasive poverty issues. When asked how much a poor person would make, I shrugged my shoulders and guessed $10,000 to $15,000 per year. My friend laughed and said that is ow much the clase medio makes per year in Buenos Aires.

I tried explaining that the cost of living is so much more expensive and that people could barely eat on that, let alone pay rent. However, it did make me curious on whether someone from Argentina, if he saw the cities and the ¨ghettos¨, would persistenly claim that America is better off. If he sawNew Orleans, post-Katrina, or the Harlem-side of Central Park at night, Compton of Mexican-border towns, would he be so quick in his generalizations?

What is portayed in the media to the world is a glamourous fabulousness of middle-class life contentment, where most of our problems consist of whether we feel actualized or skinny or lazy or heartbroken. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some in America who are, instead, concerned of where to live of how to eat.

My friend continued to tell me that poverty, la pobreza, is not the same in America as it is here, in Bs. As. He said, ¨we have villas (slums and shanty-towns) and people without homes, people sleeping on the streets under overhangs with only a mattress and some basic belongings. You don´t have that in America.¨

Although I am not American, I have seen some of its cities and believe that Canadian cities are much the same. I explained to my friend that there are homeless people and they don´t even have mattresses, just cardboard, if they are ¨lucky¨. I added that violence in a Toronto or New York ¨ghetto¨ seems to be more ruthless. Guns, knives, drugs, gangs, theft, murder are everyday realities that we have, too.

Even on the news here, La Plata, one of the more violent villas, experiences robbaries and kidnappings regularly, but more on the side of neighbourhood and family disputes. A guy will kidnap his kids from his in-laws but he hangs out with them at his own house until the polic show up. A man in a wheelchair slams into someone else and steals her bag, wheeling away. There are also moments that seem, to me, markers of a higher community standard as opposed to the way ghettos are portrayed back home. For example, a man in La Plata was molesting local children. Once a few neighbours found out, they rallied, pulled him out of his house, beat the shit out of him and launched rocks through his windows, sending a message to him and any other pervs thinking about touching little children. Recently, I was told that a villa in La Boca, close to where we live now, acts more like a commune. Everyone chips in their earnings to purchase food and basic necessities for the community. Now, I do know that Toronto´s Regent Park has a weekend market where residents can sell food or crafts, but I don´t know if they share the profits.

With all of this information backing up my points, my friend still looked at me a bit sideways with a twinkle of doubt in his eyes. I told him that if he ever goes to Toronto I would show him our version of villas, just to understand it better.

I guess he has to see it to believe it.

No comments:

Post a Comment