Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cost of Stuff


Some Peace Corps Volunteers upon returning home express disgust with American’s seemingly wanton consumption of material resources. I feel they may be confusing who we are with greed. To me it is not that we are consumers of stuff, but that we are consumed by stuff.

Stuff is who I am as an American. It defines me. It is as much a part of me as my politics, philosophy, behavior, and family. To understand me, or American culture, I think one needs to understand the importance of stuff.

My fourth or fifth rake is broken by carelessness of the people who took it without my permission. It is not the absence of a rake that pisses me off, but the casual disregard about telling me, or replacing it. When I find out about it, a simple “Please forgive me” is the only effort for compensation.

The cost of the rake is not what angers me. Samoans don’t understand, it is “my rake”. It is a part of me you have violated. Don’t they realize they have crossed a sacred cultural divide?

Well, I just have to live with my cultural baggage, as they have to live with theirs. Maybe that is this Peace Corps adventure


Anonymous said...

Have you finally come to "realization"?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, that is the case, it's a commune thing, what's yours is mine too. It's the hardest thing for a palagi to get use to, even us Samoans that were born there but left to live overseas are frustrated by it when we returned and find our shoes disappearing, but that is life there. They shared things, and if you don't you're known as an aiuu. Hang in there, you have only a few months to go.