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It wasn’t until I lived with local families in the phillipines (8 months during 2016) that I was smacked in the face with the reality of just how hard it is – to afford some of the items we literally take for granted (like – a refrigerator) in the west. With skewed exchange rates and low wages to begin with… the hangover of multiple waves of Colonialism lingers strongly. With little education, families sell their lands cheaply (which seems like a lot to them) and move to more urbanised areas and often remain “impoverished” trying to eek a living.
It’s hard to comprehend as a Westerner (I think) what life is like in most developing countries. From my view, if you grew up with a fridge in your home – You are one of the “rich” (20-30% of the population on this planet). Can you imagine growing up without a refrigerator?
Most people don’t have fridges in developing countries… They go to the corner store to buy ice (if there is such a “luxury” and they’re not living in a war-torn area). It’s very sustainable actually… One fridge supporting 20 or 30 or more houses… Rather than each house running a fridge. Can you imagine?… all these people in developing countries… 70% of the world’s population… slowly slowly becoming more “western”… running each their own fridge, their own air conditioner, washing machines (very rare at present) … can you IMAGINE how much more energy is going to be burning more and more fossil fuels/nuclear or WHAT/how with the looming fossil fuel/energy crisis…
How can we help the developing world to bypass Our mistake??? And take them STRAIGHT to sustainable?? It’s proven now by the West: Primitive IS the new modern!!
How can we help to share this knowledge before the very same mistakes are commited again but on a MASSIVE scale? “Westerners” are a small minority of the globe’s population and look how much damage our demands have caused already.
Humans have lived in the jungle and close to nature for a very long time. Talking to locals here… there is SO much knowledge… plant knowledge, medicine, cooking, fruits and wild foods that is rapidly being ‘lost’ as people move away from their traditions and closer to cities and adopt “western” lifestyles.
I was saddened to see local people’s need to work for others to buy rice, find food and pay for the ever-growing demands of “western lifestyle”… It bewilders me…. I mean, they Have everything that we Now think is “oh so Hipster”/Cool or what-have-you… In this most magical location, among caring people (not selfish “I’m better-than-you” people which our 90210 “magazine culture” embeds into our youth at an early age)…
People in Palawan at the Salacot Waterfalls area (where I stayed for a month in 2016) couldn’t understand Why I would want to go and live in the “jungle” in a bamboo house with no electricity, no mobile phone signal, where i had to walk down to the spring to bathe and could drink directly out of that spring… where it was so still and quiet at times, and where in the early mornings between waking and sleeping, I could feel the energy and vibrance of forest spirits in an area inhabited by the local tribe for generations. These guys are dreaming of TV’s and Radios and fancy fridges (maybe)… What kind of mad person was I?
People who helped me look after my daughter when I couldn’t get the support I needed for her in my own supposedly “civilised” country… With water so pure and air so clean, these people don’t have a way to sustain themselves…?!?!. With skills for making beautiful crafts, the ability to harvest from the jungle, to build and rebuild their cute little bamboo forest homes…. Yet they go out and work for other people for hugely substandard wages (US$0.04c per piece of rattan they harvest), or wages rates below US$8.00/day.
It’s crazy! these people have nature’s gift, and the blessing of family around them – they have TIME but no financial resources or knowledge to make use of and look after or build a liveliood from what we in the west work our butts off for our entire lives… They already have it. The American/Australian dream of “owning” a piece of God’s earth and living sustainably with one’s family. … For ALL humans; it is an innate right to live on God’s land and be productive… But that’s just not how the world works these days is it?
Are we missing something here???
Eastern cultures have plenty of Time, but no money; Western cultures have plenty of Money (comparatively), but no Time… If we could bring together our needs, and make a mutually beneficial solution that can be sustained and bring about a greater sense of family… if we could indeed build a bridge and create an enterprise which surpasses our Capitalistic needs and desires and which serves us at a more truly human level…. in a way where we may learn and benefit from each other and have experiences which fulfill our SOUL. Recall some of what our western culture has lost in its extreme Individualism… and return together to a place of sharing and peace; that we may give some hope to what may continue to evolve and ways we can Thrive as a human species.
Developing country people largely still have access to their land/some land and hopefully with government/non-government initiatives, land can be given back “to” the people to grow communities where diversified local farms supporting the communities which grow them to thrive: to uplift the rural “poor”… not be slaves to big businesses feeding themselves and the rich through the sweat of local people. Not to have their lands taken to grow monoculture cash crops (whether organic or not). No! Even the World Trade Health Report said back in 2013 that ecological farming systems must become diversified and benefit the “poor” IE. the local farmer and village families – not the “rich”/elite/export market. How much longer do we expect the “poor” to stay “poor”? Even our own western farmers are becoming poor now. Big business with its SICk profit ethic at any cost while outlaying the bare minimum is the cause of global food shortages and the 2008 riots which were kept quiet from the news in western countries.
Ordinarily, people in developing countries live on about 10-20% of the consumption rate of ‘westerners’ (including electricity).. but soon the energy needs and generation of waste in developing countries where more than 70% of the world’s population lives are going to be off-the-chart .
It’s no accident that most of the world’s people are Poor actually. It is the West’s demand and enforcement of unfair trade (greed basically) that has created the lifestyle situations of most people in the developing world.
Effectively, people in post-colonised or “developing” countries are working for a tenth of the real worth/value we do. And this is how “we” can afford to live our lifestyles; buy the products and parts, clothing and other homewares at the price we do. Even though, for example, here in Bali, a family can afford to feed themselves on a local salary… they have practically nothing left over. So when it comes to buying a household item like a fridge, which costs around 3 months salary, it’s little wonder why so many families live without.
I deduce “what’s really going on” by looking at the cost of import items such as fridges and petrol, which are still subsidised I think by government or have less import tax. I see the prices of “western” food compared to local food here and gladly buy local for myself and local friends for the equivalent of what it would cost to feed only myself the “western” way. And don’t even mention alcohol… the local wage is the equivalent of buying a six pack of beer so to sit down and drink beer in front of locals is like pissing away money.
The ‘slang’ words for white people in Philippines and Indonesia means “rich and white skin”. And I have been observing these last 3 years, local lives and livelihoods. I’ve noticed how western currencies are worth around ten times (10x) local currencies and wonder quite a lot how it came to be like this. Of course, the “west” brought “money” and prior to arrival and enforcement of their own currency system people bartered and used other currencies. SO those who controlled the money were the RICH. And also they took land away from people and forced people to work like slaves.
It’s horrifying to most local people I’ve met, both here in Indonesia and Philippines that tourists pay upwards of $100/ night to stay in accommodation usually on land bought up by businesspeople which just pays locals crap wages to fulfil menial hospitality jobs… effectively being “servants” to visitors. $100 is more than most locals get paid in a week! So of course they’re freaking Poor!.
I saw/met people harvesting rattan from the jungle getting paid like 12c per 6m piece of rattan they harvested… “Selling their land for practically nothing and then moving to urban areas in search of “work” often living in shanty shacks, polluting local waterways, piling up plastic and usually burning it, adding to the environmental problem humans are causing on this planet. ( I can tell you – the merchant selling that rattan was not poor, taught by true Capitalists I’m sure,… but local people are just kept in ignorance…. )
I cry! Why?! Why sell your land? You have everything here! Air, water, plants, nature, family to hang out with… (they think I’m crazy wanting to go and stay with them with no electricity or mobile phone or TV/ fridge etc). Can’t we just like help you to “jump” from being “backwards” i.e. very little financial benefits of what previous colonizers of these countries Took was ever shared with local people… To sharing the technologies we’ve been able to develop thanks to our “privileged lives” now that are way more healthy for us AND the environment?!?!
Can we/I not stay ON your land and help to make it healthy again… along with the whole community ecosystem. And i can come and stay and spend time with your family and learn about your culture and cool stuff like hunting wild pigs (not really my thing actually), splitting rattan, making craft and weaving that beautiful pandan and just chatting learning eachothers language… my daughter will have other kids to play with and we can just hang out a bit and make food and grow gardens and if we make a building together where i can come and stay with my daughter it would be super cool and you could rent it out and earn some income (probably more than double a local salary) when we’re away?
People NOW have the chance to help eachother… What with the huge currency disparity between east and west (we can do ten times (10×) more with our currency here in the developing world than in our own countries) to make a Difference and create a path of harmony now and for the future as well as actually Experiencing being welcomed into a family and home and being Part of that… rather than walking into a hotel and being “served” by “staff”. But our mindset is so ingrained with Colonial Values… our Thinking is like distorted glasses which we have to learn to Take Off, so we Can see things clearly… There are so many cultural assumptions we dont even realise we are making. Today, it’s enough to acknowledge that I know there are things I dont know… and I don’t even know what those things are… and I know that what I don’t know… is vastly larger than what I Do know. So,
Let’s humble ourselves.
Not come to these countries with the attitude of arrogance: “Lets help the poor people” to feel “higher” in ourself. A lot of people are on an ego trip in this world to “feel” like they are doing something… When actually, we just have to sit down and listen and share…. Actually people here know a lot more than us. And, it is OUR culture and economic system’s Fault that they are Poor in the first place.
Don’t have the arrogance to think that they ‘need’ to learn English. Maybe we need to learn their Bahasa (language)! Maybe then we can hear and understand their knowledge and wisdom and gifts for us!! (So much traditional knowledge here and just the way the families/societies operate is much more “godly” than any church group of missionaries from the “west” I’ve met).
Actually maybe God really sent Missionaries to other countries in the first place to learn from them again how to Live as God planned… because we have forgotten so much already with our Western greed-thinking. We Can learn if we Listen… to this inner-wisdom, through respect and sharing. Actually.
Actually what brought me to Bali was the desire to learn about non-chemical sustainable technology for treating bamboo at a village scale to build a homestay house from bamboo with earthship components of zero waste and food production in Palawan, (Philippines)… so that our friends can keep living on their traditional lands and not move to the city… So they can create a sustainable livelihood there… So they can bypass the western mistakes of polluting/destroying our environment… (building non-renewable houses, with non-renewable resources, polluting waterways and using exorbitant amounts of energy through fossil fuel consumption through use of refrigeration, air conditioning etc). But I’ve come to learn much more – about people, about life; and hopefully I’VE changed for the better because of my experience here. As well, I’ve learned about building with bamboo.
And I Know we COULD be making sustainable housing and resource use more available and using our “tourist dollar” to make REAL changes for Real people while learning ourselves and taking part in activities which enhance our ability to be and feel more Human… by becoming part of a community of people working together, eating together and sharing.
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