Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Time

The development of civilization and industry in general has always shown itself so active in the destruction of forests that everything that has been done for their conservation and production is completely insignificant in comparison.
~Karl Marx

The terms 'developed' and 'first world' are used to refer to societies which have advanced technologically and industrially. The terms 'underdeveloped' and 'third world' are used to refer to societies which are not advanced industrially and technologically.

Am I the only person who sees something wrong with this terminology?

To say that one country is 'developed' and another is 'underdeveloped' is to impose judgment as well as assert superiority over the 'underdeveloped' country.
But have we ever stopped to think “is 'development' what life is all about?” To quote a book I'm reading which quotes another book: we “...stumble along blindly on the road to nowhere – a paved highway which [we ourselves] bulldoze and make smooth...” (note instead of we ourselves the author was speaking of 'they themselves'). * [*see bottom for book reference]

On the bright side, we see some benefits of 'development' such as better health care, better infrastructure, etc. but rarely do we question the difference between quantity of life, which is higher in 'developed' countries, and quality of life.

It seems to me that all too often we fall into the trap of the materialism that is so preached by society itself.

Having had some time away from the materialistic society and living in an ‘underdeveloped’ society provides a unique perspective to those who are willing to hear, see, and feel the differences.
On the other hand, why are people from the ‘underdeveloped’ country are so eager to leave their countries and go to the ‘developed’ countries? Since there are so many people as eager to get go there, there must be something about it that is appealing. The question now becomes what is appealing?

Is it the promise of a ‘better life’? Probably.

So what gives people this perception of a ‘better life’? Well the media certainly does. Here in Kenya, such TV programs as WWE wrestling and Mexican soap operas are among the regularly watched programs. Additionally, there are other a variety of Kenyan TV shows, such as Inspecta Mwala, Papa Shirandula, Tahidi High, and of course news programs (in Swahili and English) just to name a few.

Aside from just the televised media, there are of course hundreds of films that are produced in western ‘developed’ countries which tend to portray the life of citizens as a, comparatively speaking, good life – that is a life where the protagonist has a car, a job, and typically a love life. Granted depending on the genre of film the car may or may not be present, the job may or may not be a high paying job, and the love life may be troubled.
All in all, however, this is a better life where only the rich have cars and the more common means of transportation are walking, using a bicycle, or public transport vehicles (many of which do not have seatbelts and some of which would be considered unsafe in ‘developed’ countries).
Certainly, the choice seems clear – materialistically speaking – that the ‘developed’ nations are a ‘better’ place to be/live.

But at what cost?
At the loss of simple decency – to say please, thank you; to spend time with friends and family instead of rushing out the door to a second, third, even fourth job.
At the loss of sight – the loss of sight that “we are one”; we lose sight of our similarities and focus on our differences.
At the loss of …
[For brevity sake, I shall stop with those examples]

Is the loss worth it to you?

Perhaps it is time to reawaken, or remember what we had once forgotten.
It is time to start living a better life (qualitatively).

*The World Is As You Dream It: Teachings from the Amazon and Andes by John Perkins

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