Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life out of balance.

According to the Hopi dictionary, the Hopi word koyaanisqatsi is defined as "life of moral corruption and turmoil" or "life out of balance." The prefix koyaanis means "corrupted" or "chaotic", and the word qatsi means "life" or "existence" literally translating koyaanisqatsi as "chaotic life."

First, a few facts:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The ranks of the nation's poor have swelled to a record 46.2 million — nearly 1 in 6 Americans — as the prolonged pain of the recession leaves millions still struggling and out of work. And the number without health insurance has reached 49.9 million, the most in over two decades.

No politics, no spin - just numbers. It's plain to see that more Americans are living below the poverty level than have since the 1980s. The other half of the equation is the poverty line:

For last year, the official poverty level was an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four. Measured by total numbers, the 46 million now living in poverty are the most on record dating back to when the census began to track in 1959. The 15.1 percent tied the level of 1993 and was the highest since 1983. For an individual, the annual income is $11,139.

Now that we have established a bench mark, consider that there are those living in poverty and those living in extreme poverty. They have measured those numbers since 1975, and they are roughly the equivalent of someone being obese or being morbidly obese. You're still poor, only now, you are so poor that we have invented another chart for you. One with an adjective.

Now that we know the numbers, something that happened today has me perplexed. Somebody named Missoni created such a buzz over his (or her) fashion designs that Target's web site shut down and the store had a rush on the stuff to the point that TV paid attention and they actually ran out of product.

It isn't as though Missoni was selling food or something that could help people. They are selling dinnerware, shoes and clothing; presumably things that we can live without, especially when you consider that large numbers of people are living below the poverty level.

Somewhere in America there are people who will jam up a web site and line up at a store in September for some designer stuff that they presume to be a "bargain." I'd guess that these aren't people who are living at or below the poverty level. So, it leaves me to wonder where the separation is and what predicates people above the separation level to behave in such a manner. I'm lower-middle class, and I had no idea who this Missoni person was until I read the story on the Internet. Am I uninformed?

Regardless of the "incredible bargain" prices that may have existed for this stuff, it leaves me wondering how a society that can produce 46 million people living in poverty could also produce a large number of people willing to spend money on stuff like that. The Hopi had a word for it. Koyaanisqatsi. Life out of balance. If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend you search your Netflix account and spend a couple of hours with it.

Is our life out of balance? It surely is. And don't call me Shirley.

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