Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Z is for zig-zag - images of America

Hooray, the last letter of the alphabet, the finale and end!

But what's this? More communication problems? Those in the US pronounce this tricky last letter as z.e.e. and Aussies say z.e.d.! However, right now, who cares - this is the last letter, there are zero to go!
Here's a wonderful, long zig-zag fence next to a field (which we'd call a paddock) which I photographed during a walk near Lake Tahoe.
The fence was beautifully constructed - holes had been drilled through the logs, then lined up and a heavy metal stud joined them together - simple, efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
There are a zillion other things I could have included in this alphabetical journey. I could have zeroed in on the zany, the zealous or how America seems to have passed its zenith particularly in regard to being a democratic, fair and wealthy country. Over 46 million people (around 16% of the population) are living below the poverty line - that's an enormous number to get your head around.

Nearly 17 million children are living in 'food insecure' households and 2.8 million are living in extreme poverty. These unsettling figures aren't what's expected in what is arguably the most powerful nation on earth.

The perception in many other parts of the world is that the US is not only a powerful country, but that the people are generally wealthy. I suspect that in part this is perpetuated by film and TV.  Although we may know intellectually that those media are prone to fantasy, it's hard to break free of their influence.

I know first hand how easy it is to fall into the trap of expecting to walk into a movie set! When we travel, we choose what we want to see, often through the tint of rose coloured glasses - naturally enough, after all we've spent a lot of hard earned money to travel overseas. We avoid the distressing and uncomfortable, the down and out or sleazy areas. We choose places to visit that will entertain, amuse, delight or soothe depending on our needs.

Having travelled to the US to attend a series of training sessions in RFT and ACT, I became aware of the less touristy reality. There are huge numbers of young service men and women (Veterans) who are suffering dreadful physical and emotional injuries as a result of the various conflicts the US is, and has been, involved in.

Many of these youngsters are unlikely to recover adequately to live a "normal life" - and so the price of being powerful on the world stage has had huge costs, not only to the Veterans themselves, but to their families and friends and also to those who work with them to assist and support. Nothing happens in isolation, and the ripples spread ... the cost of war means there's less money for new infrastructure, or to repair old or damaged items like roads.

It's been reported that the US has spent $2 trillion in direct costs associated with the wars, but that
this spending was "only a fraction" of total war costs. The "greatest expenses," which the report said were medical care and disability benefits, have yet to be paid to soldiers. In the future, an estimated 2.5 million veterans will receive state benefits. (
When you factor in the indirect costs the figure is apparently closer to $6 trillion, a number so large that few of us can comprehend its enormity ... So, alongside the warm, welcoming and generous locals, there's also an air of despair, despondency and decay far from the superficial glitz and glamour of the attractive and zany tourist havens.

There's a video in this link to footage of veterans and discussion on the hidden costs of the wars.



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. love the zig-zag tour and that fence is brilliant isn't it .. yes we have paddocks .. but I'd think of them as full of lush green grass! This looks like a 'ride' - wonderful hacking trail ..

Re poverty - there's a great deal of it ... which is very sad to see ... and we can only help as much as we are able ... Charities do an incredible job, with many volunteers putting many hours in ..

It's good to be brought back to reality ... Hilary

Sue Travers said...

I wasn't sure I'd get there Hilary, but I've completed the series! (though I think I missed B for Bears - I'd better check!) I think in spring it would indeed be a great hacking trail, it was very wet and snowy in these photos.

The extent of poverty is astounding, and volunteers are invaluable in offering practical and emotional support.

I hope you're getting some warmer weather at last!

Emily richardson said...
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