It is an age-old matter of intrigue, debate, and in many cases, war…the divisive dichotomy between the “haves” and “have-nots” in this world dates back to the beginning of time. From Pharaohs ruling enslaved servants during the construction of the vast pyramids of Egypt, to the very foundation of monarchies epitomizing the concept that those who possess are in control, the human race has never been one to stand on equal footing. Naturally we strive to rise to the top and to be in possession of everything we desire. It is as innate and ingrained within us as the will for survival itself, and it is because of that burning desire that we yearn for power in ways not all that different than every other creature in the animal kingdom. But none of this is to say such struggle for prominence and dominance is necessarily bad. In fact, it’s necessarily necessary. It is the catalyst behind society’s growth and evolutionary development, and as such is vital to the accomplishments and utility of us all. But all too easily those of us on the “have” end of the spectrum forget to even acknowledge the existence of the other end.
Case in point: tonight marked the vast spectacle and celebration of the 89th Academy Awards, and with it came a realization of just how unbalanced the world really is. Flipping through the channels during the commercials tonight, it was impossible not to come across the biggest news stories of the young year, all of which surround in some shape or form the newly elected President. There were stories about his attempts to solidify his footing in the Oval, internal unrest among his staff, executive orders surrounding campaign promises, Supreme Court nominees, and much more. But one story in particular caught my eye and caused me to put the remote down: President Trump’s (revamped) ban on immigration from seven specific middle eastern countries. Footage from inside several of those nations appeared on screen, highlighting the horrors and persecution running rampant that would-be immigrants are attempting to flee. These stories are certainly nothing new, and the sad truth is we have become almost numb to the point of even noticing, but what I noticed this week is that while ignorance really is bliss, we shouldn’t let it be so universally acceptable.
Despite the best attempts by tonight’s Oscar presenters and performers to politicize the show (and even at times portend social upheaval) the stark contrast between haves and have-nots becomes uniquely illuminated when juxtaposed against an event like the Academy Awards. So much so that it should have dwarfed the party which shut down Los Angeles and brought the civilized world to a stand-still. But as they say, the show must go on, and this particular show honored the “super-haves” in a display of vast wealth, good fortune, notoriety, and hollow jubilation (not to mention one painfully bad winner announcement flub). It literally and figuratively took center-stage, and one could argue that stage was hijacked by manufactured attempts at social injustice torch-bearing. Through it all I found myself flipping through the channels, using the news in the middle east as a means to entertain myself until the Oscars returned from a commercial break. How completely backward is that notion? Imagine how preoccupied with mindless fluff we must appear to those “have-nots” struggling for political freedom and exercising the inherent right of democracy in its purest form…taking action in a manner similar to our own ancestors centuries earlier. We make excuses like saying the glitzy entertainment provides a necessary and deserved break from reality, or a distraction from our everyday stresses. Because sure we care, just enough to show interest and feel sorrow (when it’s convenient) but once in awhile it would behoove us all to turn the channel to the news…and lose the remote.