“Why did you leave America for a Third World country?” I’m often asked by Iranians who have beat the odds to reach the Promised Land. Well, let’s see: The maddening pace of modern life. The triumph of steel, concrete and asphalt over nature. Restlessness. The dominance of money over everything. The disappearance of real, natural food. The decline of healthcare, education, security and civility. The rise of mental illness with multiplying armed lunatics determined to carry out atrocities on grander scales. Endless wars abroad.
Yes, America and its industrial allies are still better than a lot of places. If another world war breaks out, I’m not going anywhere near Russia or China. Cruelty over there is on a whole different level. But dividing the world into east and west, or first and last world nations, doesn’t make sense anymore. You cannot put your hopes in any government. They are all rotten to the core. Some enslave your body, some your soul, and some (the blessed Islamic Republic) crush them both.
We have to accept that the world is irreparably broken. Today’s world is like a train traveling without breaks with people trapped in their cabins, dreaming of higher salaries, fancier furniture and bigger TVs, with their heads stuck in social media. A few will try to better themselves and the world with yoga, spirituality, green tea, political activism and social work. But our global village is a giant ship on which people’s actions, good or bad, make no difference; sooner or later this monstrosity will hit that iceberg. The only way to salvation is to jump ship, land on a remote island and build your own paradise.
Latin America, like the rest of the world, also aspires to become more modern. The mega cities here are not much different than those in any other continent in crushing the human spirit. But the cancer that is industrialization is spreading at a slower pace here. From Mexico to Patagonia, there are many spots where life goes on at the speed of Mother Earth, in rhythem with your heartbeat. Satisfaction with life here cannot be measured in economic terms. While there’s a distinct sense of fatalism and hopelessness among the poor in other parts of the world, here just being alive is a blessing. Not having a lot of money, a car or a big house is not the end of the world. It doesn’t stop people from singing and dancing at every opportunity. Something the rich have no great desire or time for. Their time is moola.
Cusco, in southern Peru, is where I landed when I jumped over The Titanic. It has allowed me to be in a kind of bubble away from the crazy and depressing world beyond, protected by mountains and valleys; saving my life before drowning.
This is a translation of a blog I wrote in Persian.