Equality, Inequity, Iniquity: Concierge Culture
Posted by Larry Harvey
read the full post here:
First let me stress, I'm a strong proponent of fairness and equality, but I also believe the world can't be and shouldn't be equal. A single act of equality as viewed from the eyes of one man is seen as charity from the eyes of another man and as enabling from a third man.
I have read many of the forum posts on eplaya that started even before people's feet got off the dirt at Caravansary. I agreed in many respects with arguments on both sides of the topic and after stepping back and viewing it from my own perspective, here is my editorial of the quasi-official stance BMORG has laid down on the subject.
This is my story. These are my feelings. Don't hate me for my views, or for my political leaning, but rather try to understand me and be tolerant of what I've been through and I will try to do the same with you and with others.
We've all experienced this in life and are better for it today. Like most people, I came into this world naked and pissed off. I've been faced with many challenges in my life. Those challenges weren't the same as your's. I'm not black, I'm not gay, I never lived in a trailer house, I haven't been sexually or physically abused. Emotionally abused possibly, but I never had a "silver spoon" in my mouth.
I had a shitty childhood as an only child and I was from a broken family by the age of nine. I started smoking pot at 11 before I ever let spirits touch my tongue at the age of 12. I was huffing paint and wishing I was dead before I even became a teenager. I was filled with anger and hatred towards everyone around me. I had no relationship with anyone, I would dress in all black EVERY day and be the most anti-social person you'd ever met. By 14 I had discovered that if I was higher than fuck I could enjoy people and people enjoyed me. A fix was my answer to everything I hated about me. When I wasn't fucked up I would withdraw into a deep depression and isolation. I would spend all my time drafting dark poetry, stories and art that while very creative was disturbed.
One thing I never experienced was hatred or anger towards others. My anger was always pointed inwards. I was the reason everything in my life was shitty. I was the cause for it all regardless of what it was. If something positive happened then it was because of someone else and not me at all. I was beginning to self-actualize that I was the cause of it all. As relationships crumbled, I could no longer perform (or even attend) school, I couldn't even spend a waking moment without being high; others around me started viewing me the way I viewed myself.
When I awoke from what I deemed my darkest hour; one afternoon coming to consciousness with a bread bag beside my head filled with Nybco Top Coat Spray Enamel Bright Gold (my flavor of choice) with a solid gold ring around my lips, I knew it was time for me to make a life choice. My attempts at suicide had failed. I couldn't even succeed at taking my own life and that even pissed me off. I had been twelve-stepped a couple of times in the past, so I knew there was another choice I could make.
I'm not going to elaborate further on that time of my life, but I just want to relate that I too know what it's like to have challenges.
Everyone one of us who attends That Fucking Thing In The Desert (TFTITD) comes from different backgrounds and different life challenges. We are all at different stages of our lives and we've all had different levels of success in our lives. What I deem as a struggle someone else would laugh and say "that's an easy day in my life." I sleep in a trailer at TFTITD I spent way to much money and to some I'm probably not being radically self reliant. I'm being somewhat plug in play in their eye's. I had my 24x7 generator, refrigerator, freezer I had frozen Otterpops any time I wanted them. I was in a camp that had excesses of food and water. I know that many would frown on this arrangement and I'm okay with how they feel. I just want them to understand this is my burn and this is how I choose to burn.
There is a huge percentage of the population who are pissed about the Plug and Play camps and the camps that isolate themselves from others at TFTITD. Putting it in perspective P&P camps aren't really different than I am (or dare I say we are) in "some" respects. For them it may be a struggle. I mean if you're the CEO of a $190B dollar company the simple fact you come to the desert has got to be a fuckin' struggle. I can't even comprehend that kind of wealth and I sure as fuck can't imagine someone having more in the desert than I have at home.
I have to keep it all in perspective. I live in the suburbs with two kids and a wife and the dog who's nearly 15 years old now. I drive a minivan and my wife drives a car that's had a cracked windshield for over 10 years. Others can look at me and say you have two cars, a wife, kids and a house worth over a half million dollars and they may proclaim "you know nothing about suffering." I understand where they are coming from, but I would argue I do know what suffering is like and if it wasn't for some serious hard fucking work on my part I wouldn't be alive today. I'm a realist and I know that what I've suffered has to be put in perspective. My suffering isn't like someone else's and some are born with more than others, but that doesn't mean challenges and suffering can't be overcome, I'm an example of that.
I look up to many people at burning man and I don't know if they have more material things in life than me or less than me and it just doesn't matter. What matters (to me) is that I find value in their contributions. If I don't find value in what they have to contribute, it's okay because there are thousands of others who I do value a great deal. I can look the other way at TFTITD, because there isn't a sole there who has the ability to keep me down or hold me back.
I'm not going to be jealous of what's offered to someone who controls 190,000 times more money than me. Let me put this in perspective $10M divided by 190,000 equals $52.6. It's understandable for someone who is in charge of only $52.6 to think I'm a fuckin' pig who has no clue of what it means to be radically self-reliant. That's life and that's something that we should be able to put in perspective.
Where I do take issue with is when these P&P camps alienate themselves and don't try to be a part of the community. There are some justifiable criticisms about these camps taking from the community and not offering anything in return. This is something I think needs to be viewed cautiously.
I don't have the entire picture about what these camps do or don't provide to BRC. Their compounds with security, while on the surface seem ridiculous, put in perspective that the people within these compounds are worth more than the GDP of the VAST majority of countries in the world. It's PERSPECTIVE there is a reason for this security. While there aren't suppose to be guns at BRC, I think we would be foolish to believe people with this amount of wealth don't have more protection than a fat dude with a chicken leg in his hand.
Larry Harvey suggested:
It therefore follows that the best reform we can enact is to stop placing these Plug and Play camps in a category that sets them apart from others. This was done informally, it was not fully thought out, and we apologize for this mistake. To rectify this error, we now intend to make these camps subject to the standards that have regulated theme camps and related groups. This means that in order to receive placement, early arrival passes to the event site, or access to preferential tickets, they must demonstrate what they propose to give to their fellow citizens. Not only is this fair, we also think this will lead to deeper and more heartfelt change. No amount of preaching can replace immediate experience, and we believe that constant interaction can be the best teacher of all.
I have to say that I agree and this seems like an equitable thing to try. Part of me feels some concern for members of the P&P camps, because if we expose them to an inequitable amount of equality then we will find that bad things can happen not only to them, but to TFTITD as a whole.
TFTITD will evolve and will change over time, just like us all. As we age, mature and evolve in life we are bound by more rules, more responsibilities and more inequality. It isn't until we are in decline and enter our twilight years that we are able to once again begin absolving ourselves from responsibilities. I for one do not want to see the devolution of Burning Man.
Make bad decisions, but don't play badminton with the birdie in the back.