There is one last thing I want to point out from the things that we could learn from Africa, really any poverty stricken area, and that is how to prioritize.
As Americans we are extremely, extremely blessed. Sometimes I see it as a blessing and sometimes I look at as a curse, especially now as our consumerist society is causing us so many problems environmentally, economically and fundamentally. We’re buying things that we can’t afford, our priorities are so out of whack. I mean even when people are about to get their lights shut off the last thing they want to do is give up their iphone 500 that they just bought a week ago when it first came out. We threw the other one away without a second though of what the damage it would do in the landfill or to what we could to do with it instead, like recycle or upcycle it in some way.
Even when they can’t feed their kids they’re going out and buying a new Hummer instead buying a bicycle. There isn’t really anything really wrong with either of those things, except the Hummer, but they’re both luxuries and it seems like it’s the last thing people are willing to give up. Africa doesn’t have the luxury of being addicted to anything because they can’t even get what they want. Except now I hear about schools in Africa getting laptops and it’s like, “What?! They can’t even afford food and you think they need a laptop?”
We’d rather go out and buy cigarettes and bear instead of buying ourselves or our kids food. Who am I to talk? I’ve never been addicted to either one and that’s simply because I saw what idiots people turned into when they decide it’s cool to be addicted to something.
We even go out of our way to destroy the planet by getting bottled water because the water from the tap just isn’t good enough even though it’s the same exact thing and people in Africa have to walk 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles just to water. Half the time it isn’t even clean water. Eighty percent of diseases in the developing world are caused by contaminated water
While us Americans are taking our 30 minute showers, leaving the water running while we’re brushing out teeth, watering the herd of cattle that we’ll eat so much of that it will make us sick, and we’re using between 100- 175 gallons of water every day. That is just at home. The UK uses 35.66 gallons and the average person in the developing world uses 2.64 gallons of water every day.
It is estimated that 5.3 billion people, two-thirds of the world’s population, will suffer from water shortages by 2025.
Two- They’re creative because they have to be. Unlike most Americans who can pretty much just snap their fingers and have whatever suits their fancy, they have to come up with a way to use whatever they have, in some parts it’s probably trash left by tourists or something, and use to make what they need. Every time I go to the store, which is as rarely as possible because there is nothing I hate more, I see a few of things. One, I see the ads, the stupid crap people are trying to convince me that I need. It sickens me. Two, I see all the crap that people are buying. I really shouldn’t be judging, but I just can’t help it. And really I don’t care. These people are walking around with their blinders on and most people know what they’re buying is junk, but they don’t care. Those who don’t know are just as bad. They’re not talking responsibility for their life. They’re trusting some government to tell them what is good for them instead trying to make an informed decision. Everybody pays for the poor decisions that any individual makes. Someday it will be through healthcare, but for now we’re paying with through a polluted environment. It takes a bigger toll than anybody could probably guess. The third thing I see is how much of the crap in that store I could make myself. Make myself and probably even things others are throwing away. Make a bookshelf out a pallet, make a cat scratcher out of some old unloved boxes. It’s pathetic how lazy we’ve gotten. People in Africa have to make shoes out some pop bottles and cloth.
All of it makes me just to want to throw myself on the shelves and scream at the top of lungs. Why not? All the kids do it in the toy isle? Probably not for the same reason, but still. By the end of my trip I’m just waiting for someone to run into me so I can punch them out or yell at them to freakin open their eyes. Just to let you know, I’ve never done either one, but I’m sure I feel much better if I did.
I’m sorry for being so rantish. This isn’t to say that we should feel guilty or that it’s wrong for us to be so well off, but the problem comes when we start to take it for granted, when we don’t appreciate and when we don’t even think about it. When we blindly make based on greed and money it becomes a problem and it’s an insult to those who have nothing.