Western Guilt: how should I feel?

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This is very personal for me to share, and I hope that you find it thought-provoking or are able to relate in some way.

I feel guilt because I know not of what it is like to have eat the packaging of a product
because my neighbors are unable to purchase my mothers threads.
I know not of the taste of straw on my tongue
to be the same as the one plowed in the soil that my hands have felt.
Or the worry of my food spoiling before I have the chance to eat it,
because my developed country provides me with packaging that I do not need to eat
because there is enough food for all of us
times 2.

I feel guilt because I have not experienced the hardships of a bad crop.
If my neighbor produces a bad crop, that is none of my concern.
I can simply drive to another seller
Because my developed country grants me the freedom of transportation.

I feel guilt because much of what I treasure is at the expense of another.
And often
I feel that the expense is made by my own,
intentional choice.

Is it my fault that the hummus I just bought was encased in plastic from India?
Wasn’t it my fault, because I bought it?
Wasn’t it my fault, because I purchased the option that was $1.99 cheaper
than the environmentally-friendly, compostable packaging
that was produced 2 miles north from where I live?
I could have bought that one.
I could have.
I could have also pulled the toxins straight from the Indian boy’s lungs too.
I could have if I spared the $1.99 more, right?
I could have saved him, couldn’t I?
I could have saved myself.

I know that
I am in a developed country.
Which is why I do have this luxury
and the freedom to decide
which hummus I want to eat
at what time
on what day
because food is plentiful here.
Food that is sometimes made of pure sugar
that goes to my thighs
instead of my brain
that goes to my stomach
instead of my feet.
So that at the end of the day I cannot find the energy that I thought I consumed.
But food is plentiful here.

I know
that my wages are more than my neighbor
trust me
I know
that my neighbor in Nepal has it worse
because they do not receive a high wage every month.
They might not have food that is plenty, either…
But do they have love, instead?

Can I trade my monthly wage for a joyous love?
For the fulfillment that is not brought by the purchase of my first car or
that is not bought by the purchase of my first degree?
That degree, I was told
told by every person I ever knew in my entire life
that it would change my life into the one that I dreamed of.
The one that I dreamed of.
The one that I dreamed of?
I thought I dreamed of hiking
and love
and friends
I guess I forgot
that instead I dreamed of earning freedom
through payments
payments I make with money
payments I make with years of my life spent
nose in a book
foot on the grinder
butt in a seat.
That is how I earn my freedom
by graduating school, 4 schools to be exact
then getting a job
so now I am free.
Aren’t I?
I know I live in the land of the Free.
In the land where people do not starve.

Are these things even luxuries anymore?
Is my loan payment
car payment
housing payment
and all the other monetary things that my high wage pays for
even a luxury if my developed country requires them to live?
If without these things,
I am not considered free?

Am I just as happy as the boy who starves at night
who has toxins in his lungs
because he makes plastic containers for the hummus that I eat so that it is $1.99 cheaper
so I can afford it in my developed country.
Is he just as happy as I am?
If he is, do we share this guilt?

But what if
what if that guilt is the guilt that I am forced to feel because it is how my God-loving,
humanitarian government, stays good-natured and democratic?
Would this make them just as guilty as me?
Would this still be considered a conscious decision?
Does making this decision make me just as unhappy
as the Indian boy with toxins in his lungs
who does not live in my developed country?

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