I'll send an SOS to the world,
I'll send an SOS to the world,
I hope that someone gets my…
I hope that someone gets my…
I hope that someone gets my…
Mierda en una bolsa (shit in bag)
Mierda en una bolsa (shit in bag) ♪
I remember decades ago when I used to take my dog out in Buenos Aires (as a child I still didn't understand the cruelty of having an animal as a pet, especially in a city), the animal instinctively went straight to the base of the trees, the only miserable pieces of land left in sidewalks. The dog sniffed the area, did its thing and, after finishing, it itself scratched the ground with its hind paws to cover its gift. Decades later, the first thing I noticed when I came to Spain was that in Barcelona city the small square at the base of the trees had a cover with a few ventilation holes and it's not rare to see it totally covered with cement. It wouldn't surprise me if at some point they decide to enclose trees in glass cabins, or vacuum plastic bags to once and for all eliminate the grime that this pest of nature generates.
The local government of the town in which I currently live invests lots of money in gardening to maintain a beautiful artificial appearance in the bushes and tiny trees on the sidewalks (they look like props) and, against any logic they put a sign banning dogs from peeing or shitting there (hey, they would ruin gardener's work of art!) Then, you may wonder where people make their dogs urinate here in Spain, well, without any craftiness (since it seems to be the rule here,) they guide their dog near some motorcycle or car wheel, or some house threshold. As for the “jackpot,” the original custom was to literally leave the turd in the middle of the path, until the government imposed a funny method, the owner have to pick it up and throw it to the container in a plastic bag. How do you think this sophisticated process is likely to end? 1) The guys from the garbage recycling plant diligently separate the organic waste or 2) the shit ends up buried in the bag as a “message in a bottle” for future archaeologists*?
Surely you lived the following experience: after enjoying a picnic lunch in nature you had to apologize and go to crouch behind a bush, then you probably noticed how flies arrived immediately and licked your scraps until they were completely dry and odorless. From our food remains to a corpse, any organic waste is recycled by nature. Complex in its simplicity, so wonderful is nature; what is waste for this, for that is a need, everything lives together in balance. But, lost as we are in our “evolved” pedantic abstractions, we find disgusting the mere idea that ants or flies invade “our” space trying to clean up our mess. Just yesterday, visiting the neighborhood of prefab houses that my (Spanish) parents-in-law call “campground,” I saw my mother-in-law deliberately spraying ant poison over the dishes with rest of food we left after having lunch.
As is my habit, I keep trying to liven up my speech with a joke, but it's getting more and more difficult, I feel like I'm feeding what I call the “Homer Simpson effect,” when we just laugh at our own stupidity and let it become chronic.
“Everything is easier today,” say my parents-in-law, they have their home plenty of electronic gadgets which they barely know how to use. Where this confusion comes from: on TV, Americans show us their standard of living, their “isle design” kitchens, bigger than our whole house, with large stoves and ovens, not by chance always impeccable since, in order to afford all that stuff, their everyday lunch has to be a hot dog in some street stall in the half-hour break free of their full-time jobs. Material or abstract, everything is for sale in the US, while the Spanish term “comodidad” is associated with laziness its English translation, “comfort,” is internationally accepted as a symbol of status, “Neither on foot nor by bicycle; by car, like a gentleman!” says my father-in-law, proud of his achievements in life. The average around the world have a car to go to work and work to maintain the car, what in turn maintains some oil magnate's mansion in Miami, who in turn, closing this vicious circle, has this house just as status symbol (the “Homer Simpson effect” is not only about proletarians!) The mansion remains there empty, waiting for some immigrant passing by send pictures to his relatives in Mexico under the title: “Look how well these gringos live!”
Being a child I noticed in some of my neighborhood friends a behavior I found disgusting, I nicknamed them “The Wow, dude! guys,” morons dazzled by the chromes of a chopper bike, the exorbitant figure in the tacky documentary, the last generation tech gadget… Americans constantly reinforce and take advantage of this mental weakness, redefining “hobby” as an “endless desire for more” (consumerism) and refer to this as an acceptable behaviour. Through the goggles of this American culture already settled around the whole world, to be a “fan” sounds innocent, normal to all of us. They also taught us to distinguish that from the ill version of fanatic, “the Islamic terrorist” and, in turn, to distinguish this from another normal tendency, perfectly understandable at an age when hormonal changes and psychological conflicts step in, the American teenager who one cloudy day decides to carry his gun to school and mow down his teacher and classmates after killing his parents and siblings at home. Evolution, progress, new technologies, pepsi and coke.
Jokes apart, let's analyze the consequences of our artificial environment seen from the human, social point of view. I usually compare South America with Europe because my migration experience reinforced what I've been noticing about human evolution, how the lack of contact with nature have been weakening what I believe should be the basis of our intellect: instinct. Although today, telecommunications have standardized customs and culture all around the globe (in a more or less achieved imitation of the American-Way-Of-Life®, depending on the case) I suppose it's genetic memory what still makes some difference, people in Europe have spent a lot more generations living in an overcrowded artificial environment. I've written about this a lot of times and it's not in vain to paraphrase about it again: instinct is what connects us with nature, it needs to be woken up and nourished by nature from early age. I don't mean necessarily to grow up in the jungle, but to dispose of time and space enough to allow our activities to develop in a natural way. An example I used in my first novel: in the times when children could play alone in the streets they learned to organize themselves (in a natural way); in my childhood, for example, with other children in my neighborhood we improvised games and constructed our own toys. We learned in that way to be responsible, alone on the streets there was no adult to tell us what to do, we knew we had to face the consequences of our decisions. See how children are raised today, locked up in a flat watching TV, locked up in a classroom swallowing lessons from a teacher, locked up in a schoolyard screaming and running randomly, each one in a different direction. You see this flaw in education in the way they behave later in their adult lives, having fun means for them to reproduce the school playground experience, which basically consists of crowding and shouting. I've been living in Spain for seventeen years (it is 2018), of which the first five were as an illegal immigrant, which forced me to wander the streets of the center of Barcelona every day, which means that, in summer, I also I had to live together (sometimes crowd in) with tourists from the rest of Europe, so, I dare to extend the following criticism to the European in general, he goes through life totally disconnected from his environment, as if he were alone and his actions did not affect what surrounds him, be it people or objects. The Spaniard in particular never assumes responsibility, whatever the consequences of his actions, any claim is referred to the city council or the police, who also do not assume responsibility. Which is what happens to a greater or lesser extent everywhere, a consequence of how people live and coexist today, especially in big cities, except that in the European, from what my speech has been insinuating, this fracture, this insensitivity, is much deeper and rooted.
Number is a decisive factor. When a group is small, playing evolves spontaneously in an organized activity. It goes without saying that city life constantly sabotages this healthy way of interacting.
The environment we created is healthy only for those wheeled machines that carry proletarians to their jobs every day. Cities, with their buildings, supermarkets, are just a way to shorten distances, to optimize production-consumption processes. No aspect in a city contemplates our well-being. I find little difference between cities and those high-tech modern milking yards for cows.
Cities don't provide us even the minimal to survive: air (oxygen), food, water, come from outside. To rightly call these cement hives we have created “our habitat,” they should support us, not the other way around as happens in practice. The artificial environment we've created doesn't manage itself, it requires artificial maintenance; the more artificial the environment the more artificial maintenance it requires. In turn the artificial maintenance process requires its own maintenance that in turn requires another sub maintenance process and so on. We keep adding more and more layers of complication, and all those layers still depend on the only real source: natural environments. What is worse, cities continue growing and stealing more and more place to what really provides all resources, and even more place is taken every hour by the vicious field exploitation needed to provide cities commodities. Nevertheless, the main problem is still that nobody seems to see anything wrong in our ways, the Wow Dude Guys continue praising what they call “progress.” Progress that in practice means that, now, each time you need to scratch your ear you have to pass your arm under your ass. And, taking into account what history tells us, we know the upcoming “solutions” will hardly mean a simplification, in the future you'll probably have to leave your country or travel to another planet to scratch your ear.
But man doesn't give up inventing excuses to justify his nonsense. After all, it hasn't been need but vanity what has been leading him to complicate everything. The same vanity that doesn't let him accept that his supposed “superior” intelligence won't fix what it itself has been breaking.
The confusion is deep, and not just because “ecology” has been distorted by sellers and politicians; when it's not a pretty view far in the horizon, for most people nature is grime. This make me think of some crazy hypothesis, like that man originally evolved in another planet and this past life memory is the origin of his irrational, compulsive tendency to modify the environment. The true is that whether decorated with scientific arguments or disguised even as ecological, any action taken from now on without keeping in mind that nature knows better than us what to do, will make the situation worse.
Let's suppose that we all finally agree in honestly start to change the course in order to survive as a species. We'll realize that changing habits won't be enough, whatever the new way proposed be, it'll rather coexist nicely with the natural environment if it's (passively) adopted by 7.6 billion people we currently are.
Human psychology is easy to understand. Waiting for some natural catastrophe to force us to settle down abruptly (recurring argument in fictional literature, especially, for obvious reasons, religion) is like taking for granted that, at some point, mom, tired of our pranks, beats us up and problem solved. At some point nature lost control over our population growth, we should consider that probably mom is not there to save us anymore. The next “one small step for a man” that will mean “one giant leap for mankind” will be to overcome adolescence.
(*) It takes from 100 to 1000 years the plastic to biodegrade.
©2018 - Walter Alejandro Iglesias
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