Building a Better Bloke

Fat, rich westerner

Posted in Philosophy, Travel, Wankers by Sam de Brito on December 8, 2009

By James Marshall

Ten years ago I made a resolution to go overseas every year.

It wasn’t in response to anything in particular, apart from a love of travelling, but I realised that if I didn’t prioritise the planning process, it would be easily neglected.

I didn’t want to wake up one day, realise that I was old and had not done the things I wanted to do. Since then I’ve managed to get to all sorts of out-of-the-way places, even if I cheated slightly one year by going to relatively un-exotic New Zealand for a couple of weeks. So far, so good …

Last week, I was planning this year’s trip, a brief 10-day jaunt to Singapore and Malaysia.

I normally travel further and longer, but time got away from me a bit this year and I had to juggle a few things to fit it in.

As I was fiddling around on the internet and getting frustrated at airline booking processes, I had a moment of ennui, and wondered whether it was even worth trying to organise the trip – it just seemed like so much hassle.

Shortly afterwards I realised that there was something pretty wrong with me.

I mean, really. How ungrateful do you have to be to be getting irritated at minor logistical hassles when the reward is being able to travel to interesting and beautiful places, for no reason other than to enjoy yourself?

Somewhere along the line I’d become so complacent about the incredible privilege of being able to travel overseas that I considered a trip to South-East Asia to be worth abandoning.

The usual response at this point would be to bang on about how lucky I am to be a rich westerner, living in the rich western world.

And I am.

My problems are small ones in comparison with those of most of the residents of the Earth.

I’m in no danger of starving, I can provide for my family, I have a roof over my head, my health is good and I have the luxury of getting frustrated at booking airlines. No arguments there.

But with great privilege comes great responsibility.

Because I’m a fat, rich westerner, I have a capacity to change the world which is almost unprecedented in the history of the human race.

Starving Ethiopians, drowning Bangladeshis, Congolese bleeding to death – none of these people have the same power to effect change. Staying fed and alive is a full time job for them.

And yet we in the West seem to suffer from a strange type of lazy desperation which we constantly moan about.

When everyone around us is sick of hearing us whinge, we use substances to dull the pain of our intolerably boring existences.

“I’m just not happy…”

“My life isn’t everything I hoped it would be… ”

“No-one’s given me a Ferrari yet…”

Cry me a river.

Here’s a teaspoon of cement to help you harden up.

Expecting other people to save you from your own petty, self-inflicted little non-problems, is not only rude and ungrateful, it makes you a parasite.

If you’re not going to go out and save the world, I understand. It’s a huge ask and not for everyone. But the least you could do is to try to save yourself a little bit.

Give out and get back. Stop thinking about yourself. Find a way to contribute.

Don’t be a parasite.

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21 Responses

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  1. Mags said, on December 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Great post mate.

    {She says as she toddles off to donate blood}.

  2. Jurgen Halle said, on December 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    We contain the keys to our own contentment.

  3. LittleChild said, on December 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    After this bout of bourgeois self-loathing turning global magnamity, what exactly are you prescribing us to do? A revolution of small altruistic acts? Like what exactly? You seem to be reacting against western individualism, yet by the end you’re denigrating anyone who can’t look after themselves:

    ‘Expecting other people to save you from your own petty, self-inflicted little non-problems, is not only rude and ungrateful, it makes you a parasite.’

    A confused post with plenty of misplaced anger. How is this supposed to make any bloke better?

    • Robert said, on December 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      A better bloke is one who thinks.

      Read, consider, use the bits you find agreeable…and you’ll be a better bloke.

      Or you could argue an alternative, it’s much more constructive than simple negativity.

  4. Sam de Brito said, on December 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Stopping calling yourself a little child might be a start.

    • LittleChild said, on December 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      What’s with the ad hominen attacks, Sam? Why don’t you just criticise my argument? ‘A’ little child? Now your confusing objects with subjects. If you’re wondering why I chose that moniker, it’s in homage to John Lennon who was assassinated 29 years ago today. I was thinking either Prudence or Julia as well, as the latter is my middle name. Now are you going to come up with an hilarious reposte about that, too? I just love it when your anger masquerades as humour, it really befits a man.

      • The Ginger said, on December 8, 2009 at 2:14 pm

        LittleChild, I believe this was the thrust of the post: “Give out and get back. Stop thinking about yourself. Find a way to contribute.”

        What he’s saying is that we are in a position to effect useful change in the world. We can choose to or not choose to, but regardless, you certainly have the power to change your own life. So to be a better bloke, go out and do it.

        That’s my take on it anyway.

        To the writer – great post. I’m feeling a little shamed and a little provoked, which is a good start!

  5. Sam de Brito said, on December 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    LittleChild, do you know how many of you I’ve seen in the last four years? Lob in, shit on topic, question relevancy of blog, retire to seat in bleachers and offer nothing constructive. I have to hold my tongue on All Men Are Liars. Not here. Write a post, offer some insights, don’t just sit in the stands squawking about how shit the game is.

    • LittleChild said, on December 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm

      I have no desire to ‘shit on’ anything, that just adds to the aggregate of misery. What my critque focused on, and I apologise for not making myself clear, was a lack of internal consistency in this post. I concede the article has many good points and was conceived and written in good faith. Many problems we face in countries like ours are relatively minor and merely irritating; the daily struggle for food and shelter is mostly solved.

      My particular concern was that, by the end of the article, the author had lapsed into just the sort of blokey masculinity that this blog is attempting to reform. The sense men have to ‘harden up’ and not ask for help. That being generous is aligned with a sense of power and mastery. The article begins by pointing out the decadence and pettiness of individualism (a point I’m partial to) but then ends by insinuating that self-reliance is the only way a ‘real’ man should be. By scattering the crumbs of his beneficience he’s not really helping anyone as much as proving he’s an all-round good guy and generally peacocking. As a woman, it’s just an impression that I got.

      I agree completely that all people need to consider their actions and be self-aware. I also think there’s some elements of Australian masculinity that are quite ingrained and need to be examined.

      • The Ginger said, on December 9, 2009 at 9:23 am

        I think you’re generalising a little. I don’t think the author is saying that ALL problems should be solved on their own. I think his point is that our “fat, rich, westerner” problems aren’t problems at all, and should be considered as such. I don’t think he’s promoting self-reliance as much as empathy and a sense of perspective, actually.

        However, that’s just my opinion.

    • damon said, on December 10, 2009 at 1:29 am

      I disagree with LittleChild’s take on this blog (I thought the topic was a rather good one) but I do disagree with what you’ve just put down here.

      Since when does writing a blog or publishing any sort of opinion make you immune from criticisms? If you’re putting an opinion out there, be ready to back it up when people come in and disagree with you.

      This doesn’t make LittleChild ‘shit on’ the blog – it’s her right to offer a countering opinion. And if anything, it was a constructive one. If you don’t want differing opinions, don’t allow a comments section. Or are the only comments worth having are ones that are the same with your’s?

  6. Poopie said, on December 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    You have to hold your tongue on AMAL Sam, yes… Happy Editor, Happy Life – stand up fer yerself ya puss.

    • Brian said, on December 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

      Happy Editor, Getting Paid 😛

      Things we do.

  7. Bender said, on December 8, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    A little vent now and then helps us. It’s cathartic (in a very minor way).

    We know it’s ridiculous to do so and we know that the problem is often irrelevant but we do it to get it off our chests.

    It’s minor, just like the problem, so let it go

    • LittleChild said, on December 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      I agree, actually. I think it’s part of our Anglo-Saxon culture that we keep things in and remain polite, cultivating simmering grudges until it boils over in some other setting. My boyfriend is European and he’s always on the phone screaming at relatives over seemingly nothing, then they’re as tight as can be when they see each other next. It amazes me. Just like you said, a minor catharsis and it’s all over and everyone moves on.

  8. trish said, on December 8, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Congrats on your philosophy major, LittleChild, but as a contribution to an open blog can’t you take this posts on it’s merits rather than trying to prove to us how good you can be at picking an argument apart?

    • LittleChild said, on December 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      Don’t make this about me, trish. And don’t you think clear expression is worthwhile in itself?

  9. Sam de Brito said, on December 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

    “The sort of blokey masculinity that this blog is attempting to reform.”

    Is that right? Is that what this site is about.

    • LittleChild said, on December 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm

      I believe your words were ‘…offer some insights…’ Well, I’ve done that and it’s still not good enough. You’re the king of confrontation and all you’ve got are rhetorical questions. You’re just a bully. It’s written all over your face.

    • LittleChild said, on December 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm

      Consider changing the name of this blog, then, to ‘Maintaining the current bloke’

  10. Laudanum said, on December 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Sam, you remind me of Hemingway. You’ve got all of his macho insecurity, but none of his writing talent.

    You’re just shitty because you know that you will never make it as a writer like Salman Rushdie or Martin Amis, or even as Nick Hornby. Of course, you can always name drop that novel of yours some more…you know, the one with the derivative title.


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