Yesterday, I stepped out of the Apple store in upscale Otay Ranch Shopping Center a little dizzy. The iPads, MacBooks, AirBooks sat on new, clean table tops just behind me. Their glassy retina displays, screen spinning accelerometers, and thin, silky-smooth metals were still flashing in my head.
Brave, the new Pixar and Disney film was also rattling around in my brain. I had just seen the movie with my daughter Rosalind, and a father-daughter bonding had occurred over the mother-and-daughter-come-to-understand-each-other plot line. I headed over to Banana Republic, just across the street and up one-half block, to check out their sales.
But on the way, I took a moment, and I kicked the beautiful shopping paradise scene to the back of my mind. With my brain’s top-drawer, high-tech mental imagining system, I called up an image of a street in Bluefields, Nicaragua, a street I had been driven up in a small, Kia taxi just last week. Here was upscale Southern California in front of me, a BMW on the corner, but there in my mind was now a hilly street in Bluefields, Nicaragua, and suddenly I was flying through it in a dirty, loud and rattling Kia taxi.
Dirty, broken, board and stucco buildings lined both sides of the Nicaraguan street; rusted, corrugated metal hung here and there; malnourished dogs were everywhere, sleeping in the road, cruising the sidewalks; motor cycles with children on the back and no helmets on spun by; a horse was tied in a ditch, grazing; people, people, people were here and there, on bicycles, in taxis, on motorcycles, walking, carrying things, talking to each other; and green, green grass and tropical plants backdropped the scene — growing out of the street pavers and the sidewalks, filling up the yards and towering over the small, broken buildings. The jungle had not been dismissed by the city.
And there in Otay Ranch Shopping Center, with Nicaragua in mind, something inside of me unsettled. I felt lost.
The movie that I had just seen, Brave, was about a break in a mother-daughter relationship. The relational riff was symbolized in the movie by a rip in a family tapestry hanging in the family castle, the rip falling right between the mother and her daughter. It is a universal theme, mothers at odds with daughters, and it will sell well.
But there is also a rip in the social fabric of the whole earth’s beautiful family tapestry.
Upscale Southern California — rip — downscale Eastern Nicaragua.
The images are juxtaposed upon the earth, and not by way of the Diptic app on the iPhone. The pieces don’t go so easily together.
The rip exists side-by-side in the real world of living, suffering, pleasuring, hoping human beings, but it geographical gap is so wide that we don’t often notice it.
This social contrast is always present, the rich and the poor, but it doesn’t often show up on iPads and movie screens and it tends not to sell too well.
Questions occur in my bifurcated, image-torn and now partially disturbed mind.
What does it mean to not have enough?
What does it mean to have too much?
How does too-much, help not-enough in ways that empower and maintain dignity for not-enough, and that are sustainable for both?
I don’t know for sure, but I know that doing nothing, nothing for the poor in my own country and nothing for the poor in other countries is not an option that I feel comfortable with anymore.
I am thinking about another trip. I am thinking about clean water filters.
This comes from having seen it, not on a computer or in the movies, but with my own eyes.
I am uncomfortable.
My world is ripped.
I am not okay with doing nothing.
This is a good thing.