Don’t be a crappy tourist. Instead try to set a positive example for the locals regardless of which country you visit and which country you’re from. For instance bring your own reusable shopping bags along with a food container so you don’t need to waste plastic bags and foam boxes. Considering you already did some serious environmental damage traveling to your destination when you get there the least you can do is try not to produce so much garbage and to properly dispose of any garbage you do create. Also don’t get drunk in public. If you’re into alcohol and you won’t be driving a car or riding a scooter then a couple of drinks isn’t a problem however getting drunk often is. Anyway I just thought I’d mention that after seeing a lot of crappy tourists this year and after hearing about those lying U.S. swimmers in Rio.
Even if you really couldn’t care less about yourself, your neighbor one floor above you, or that guy sitting behind you on the boat please realize that when you purchase tobacco you are funding ad campaigns designed to get children and young adults hooked on this terrible drug. Children like the many 14 year old girls and boys I’ve lectured on the sides of streets and backs of alleys over the years. I sincerely urge you, not for you, not for me, and not for the many other people who are really tired of your second hand smoke, but for all the young adults, children, and unborn babies you are harming to please stop smoking and supporting the tobacco industry.
Pushed to the Edge (spoiler alert)
If you haven’t watched Pushed to the Edge I strongly recommend you do before reading this. It’s available on YouTube and the Channel 4 website. Continue reading
There’s a narrow side street that passes by my current residence which connects two larger streets and if I drew a map it’d look like a capital “H”. Usually you only get the occasional motor scooter driving through since one end has a curb however a couple days ago there were two guys that parked their truck at the end of it to do some work. When I came back they were gone and here’s what I found in the once relatively clean street.
I’m not referring to how the U.S. has conducted itself as the sole superpower since the breakup of the Soviet Union, but about how we as a species have conducted ourselves since the advent of human civilization when we became the sole superpower species. When viewed objectively it would be hard to show, thus far, that we have been anything other than an utter failure. You may be thinking that’s ridiculous and cite how we’ve spread to all 5 continents and greatly increased our lifespans.
That’s all true however when you remove the anthropocentric blinders and look at the big picture, at the biosphere which humans are just one part of, you’ll realize that although we’ve been quite successful at improving the lives of most of humanity we’ve been a disaster for nearly every other species and ecosystem on this planet. The good thing is it doesn’t have to be this way because not only do we have the potential to live comfortable lives that are in balance with nature we also have the potential to use our knowledge and technology to actively assist in the regeneration of what we’ve already tainted and destroyed.
Just How Different Are We?
Genetically speaking we aren’t very different from them, and if you question this I recommend taking a closer look at those photos, but it’s that little bit that makes a lot of difference. I can’t speak for all monkeys or the other great apes because we humans haven’t yet been able to devise a way to communicate with them as they communicate amongst themselves let alone read their thoughts, so what follows is just my anthropocentric presumption.
It seems we humans unlike other apes, monkeys, and animals in general have the ability to take not just one or two but a few steps back in order to get a bigger picture of the reality beyond our individual existence along with the ability to see not just far enough into the future to know when a tree will be fruiting and when we should return to it, but far enough to imagine what life might be like hundreds or even thousands of years into the future.
It’s these unique abilities which allow us to understand the long-term consequences of our actions and overcome instinct to adjust our patterns of consumption and the rates at which we reproduce accordingly. Whereas other animals without these unique abilities would probably just go on consuming and reproducing until nature finally by way of famine, disease, or resource scarcity induced conflict painfully brought their levels of consumption and population down to that which the biosphere could support.
On second thought… now that I look around and see the tribal mindsets, over-consumption, and overpopulation that threatens to end our evolutionary journey I begin to think… maybe we aren’t that different. On the bright side we are moving in the right direction, the only problem is will we move fast enough in order to meet new challenges and prevent future catastrophes, or will we continue as usual making it increasingly likely that future generations will be born into a noose of our tying?
Handshakes: Unsanitary and Unnecessary
Under some circumstances I think a handshake is justified and serves a purpose. For example if representatives from two tribes came together to sign an agreement a handshake between them could serve as a symbol of cooperation and unity. Under circumstances like these I have no problem with the handshake, however where I do have a problem is when people, particularly people you don’t even know, feel the need to reach out their sweaty palm for a sturdy embrace of hands. What’s up with that?
What purpose does it serve to shake somebodies hand? Do people think that if they shake somebodies hand that that person becomes less likely to lie to or harm them? Do they think if they shake the hand of a rich or famous person that some of that persons traits will literally rub off on them and that they’ll increase their own chances of becoming rich or famous? Has the average person even stopped and thought “Why do we shake hands, what are the benefits and what are the detriments?” ?
Handshakes under normal circumstances are not only unnecessary they are also unsanitary. Just think about all the door handles and other things that person may have come into contact with just before shaking your hand. Perhaps they just finished blowing a runny nose or perhaps they’re just returning from the bathroom. Did they properly wash their hands? Did they even bother to wash their hands at all? Will you remember to wash yours before you touch your face or put food into your mouth?
Fortunately there are a number of far superior alternatives to the handshake for example people could simply make eye contact and nod, they could bow with their hands down as they do in Japan, or “wai” by placing their palms together, raising them up, and slightly bowing as they do in Thailand. If physical contact was needed a more sanitary fist bump could be used in lieu of a handshake. In conclusion, I’m not trying to abolish the handshake entirely however I don’t think it should be overused like it is.