Re-edit (13/10/17): My little fun incident while I was in Jamaica. The connection itself is not a significant one as the catchy title, but it inspired me consequential thinkings on the issue of equality.
How the other half lived?
People coming from a higher educational background similar to mine may seldom let this idea slip into their minds. We have been to universities and dubiously have a career or job trajectory. Many of us are aware of another half of world, a world where academic degrees are not guaranteed. Despite of the awareness, we may never feel how the other half of people actually live in their quotidien life. If poor students are subject to this bubbly reality, the people who drive luxurious cars are even further away to the bottom from the top.
I have been reading reports on economic and social inequalities for some time. Nevertheless, it was not until a wee romance in Jamaica that triggered me to reflect ideas on the discrepancy of the world.
A keen surfing learner, I went to Portland, the non-touristy part of Jamaica, to hone my board-standing skills. Situated on the far side with 2 hour drive on the bumpy mountainous roads from the capital, Portland has beautiful natural landscapes and warm-hearted locals. Despite certain scam places howling for high prices, most of the places are family-run and offer meals at a reasonable $4 – 5 for lunch or dinner.
During my two-day of visit to Boston Bay, where Jamaican surfers go capture the choppy waves, I acquainted my surf tutor and we hit off sparkles. In the beautiful blue setting, he taught me how to handle the wilderness of local waves. By the time I left,I had 2% of my heart left in the blue Boston Bay.
We continued to talk via phones the following days. Through the phone calls, I came to understand how different our living standards are. Example: if I save a few meals and go out less, I could afford return tickets to Jamaica. However, for him, a few hundred dollars is life saving. He had a car he needed to fix at a few hundred dollar price, which would drastically change his life. With the functional car, he could drive clients and earn secondary income that could double his income. A return tickets to New York is unheard of, and to obtain a US visa is even a more remote affair to his routine.
Romance is due to diminish*. However, when I read the long essay A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf shortly after I returned to the UK, that was the theme that captured my attentions. A hundred years ago, Woolf had keenly written that men, one half of the sex, built their prosperity and security, on the poverty and insecurity on the half of the gender, women. If Shakespeare’s sister, who had died early, were gifted and had lived long, her writing career would be much confined by ideas that girls should not be educated, nor given a room to write, nor participated in the theatre scene. Even if a girl were equals, in reality, she were diminished to a housewife and bared the burden of raising 10 children solely.
Grace a the efforts of generation of suffragists and women’s rights fighters, such rigid gender segregation is largely outdated today. Nonetheless, in the modern era, is inequality not severe any more? Are one part of the human race not building their prosperity and security based on the poverty and insecurity of others?
Economic power, one of the most important rights of a modern civilian, is distributed unequally via the income distribution model. Income, is distributed highest among top cities while the citizens can barely afford a flat, then to the country level, then to the periphery and marginalised small states. Borders cut the world into top, middle, and low castes. Among each caste, income is distributed again like flowing waters into A, B, C three levels of buckets.
Similarly, visas are the modern ceilings to separate the world into castes. Maybe visas are the tool to ensure security and world order, but they also constrain and confine talents to local areas. For some, this means a farewell to opportunities or potentials of life. How can one know how far he or she will go if he or she has never been exposed to how wild the world is and how high one can achieve?
How the other half lived. While I continue to reflect on these issues, I remembered an article I have read that in history, the majority of the people had never lived. They were anonymous and lived their lives as they were. The jobs, the acceptance into the rules and momentums of the world, the confinement of opportunities and potentials. Even if they died in the most memorable war of human history, they died as the number anchored on the memorials. Who were to be remembered? Churchill, Roosevelt, or Hitler? The lives of the unrecorded, de-powered, crushed rebels — that is how the other half of the people lived.
*(13/10/2017): I later removed myself from several social media account to simplify and concentrate on my real life. WhatsApp is among the removed ones. Since Anthony and I majorly communicated through WhatsApp, I lost his contact, and he probably lost mine. Many months before my escape from social media, I already conveyed clearly to him that I wanted to terminate communication. Now many many months afterwards, for an incident that unfortunately failed to deliver to my heart, I do not think about the interaction most of the time. Some time I would still remember his pure black eyes casted against the blue water background and that striking moment when we met on beaches. Millions of stars fell in that moment. But only to that moment.