“What I remember saying is much more wonderful than what I actually said.”
Richard Feynman

What Do You Care What Other People Think?

Cancer, Inequality, Romania


This is going to be either one of those super-long posts I’ll never complete & publish or a strange short one. I am aiming for the latter.


I prefer to think of disease as a function rather then as a dysfunction. Disease, I believe, is a natural response to an unnatural behavior. For example you live a stressful life, eat industrialized food, smoke and behave like an ass. Then (surprisingly) cancer (or heart failure, bood pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity … ) comes along and simply stops you in your tracks. To survive cancer you are, in addition to enduring tormentful medical treatments, going to have to find a reason to live and change your values and life accordingly … big time … even then your chances are not good.

Cancer is usually a brutal intervention in life. Other illnesses (be they biological, mental, spiritual)  try to get your attention in a more subtle way … but lesser illnesses you can ignore or postpone. Cancer is like a big bully that gets in your face. Your opinion of it doesn’t really matter nor does it change the fact that is has an important function in your life.

I have embraced this into my life and I also apply it to other people I care about. It helps me make sense of things that sometimes seem senseless and it occassionaly helps people I care about see things in a different (though not necessarily comforting) light.


John Stewart did an(other) excellent bit about inequality in the USA … its in two parts:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare – Warren Buffett vs. Wealthy Conservatives
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare – The Poor’s Free Ride Is Over
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

After watching it Andreea and I embarked on a conversation. My opening position was “as much as I appreciate change, there is an unhealthy change in the world, an overreach that will lead to collapse”. Andreea’s opening position was “everything is fine with the world”. The conversation got me to rethink my position by applying my “cancer mentality” to it.

What if,  I asked myself, “inequality” is a cancer. What is its function? It is creating a gap between rich and poor … or in other words it is putting distance between them. Trying to see that as a good thing … I came up with … if indeed the world is heading for a crash, and that crash is being created and led by the rich … then maybe “inequality” is merely trying to protect the “poor” by distancing them from the “crashing rich”.

I can see this in my life … I, despite a “successful career”, failed to achieve a financially sustainable life (in other words … financially speaking … I crashed and burned). Though I came here out of free choice, from a financial perspective I was driven practically forced to explore and strive for self-sustenance by joining the ranks of Romanian peasants. Cancer struck and I made some radical life changes. I feel better with an outlook for constant improvement. Less then two years ago I felt my life on a crash-course together with the world around me. Today I feel my life moving into an absurd abundance while continuing to be a spectator watching that other world continue on its crash-course.

What if, from some large evolutionary perspective, financial inequality is actually a good thing?


Then, exiting stage left, Sam appears with his post describing a collapsing social Romanian fabric.

Yes, I know Romania is a chaotic country which inherited both the graft system of the Ottoman Empire as well as the legacy of autocratic Communism. Yes, I know it’s been at the mercy of foreign powers, financial and sovereign, for many a long year. But something new seems to be going on, or perhaps a bigger wave is surging on what was always a chaotic sea, and at the end of the day I see about 500 screaming children with pudding on their faces and not too many adults left standing. Even Daddy Mark is left to his hectoring and finger waggling off in the corner, talking magical tales of unicorn dust about how Romanians can now buy a piece of American companies on the Bucharest stock exchange and a grand total of eight fucking Apple shares were sold the first day.

Meanwhile robberies, shootings, spousal murders and suicides are up and today I saw a lady get her shit stolen by passers by two seconds after a car ran her down in Craiova.

Having recently written my own perspective on Romania as a Land of Peasants, together with the fresh “Inequality cancer” theme moving inside me … I respond “yeah, I get that”. Romania is a kind of strange hybrid experiment between “3rd world” and “modern western economics”. It wouldn’t surprise me that this historically stubborn Land of Peasants would be one of the first to “snap” … a relatively healthy “Romanian peasant society” is (relatively even if unconsciously) quick to pick up on a parasytic “economic cancer” and it is responding to it violently – doing whatever it can to shake it off and get back to is tried and true peasant life.

It’s a big what if … but what if?

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