So myth #235231 (at least as I perceive it sometimes, somewheres): Asians/Asian culture is more ‘in tune’ with the Earth than Westerners/Western Society.  There are certain segments of Western society that have this perception I think.  Perhaps in their mind’s eye they are envisioning Buddhist monks with shaved heads and saffron or homespun grey robes chanting in an incensed-filled temple with the temple doors opening onto a hazy mountain scene of green pine trees and delicately pale pink cherry blossoms before they go to eat their simple meal of home-grown veggies and drink some steaming green tea from small porcelain cups. And yes, this is very peaceful and organic and wouldn’t we all like to have a time of respite like that?  Anyway, I would. 

But in fact, Asians/Asian culture, at least not modern society, well, ok…I was reading my Nat’l Geo today (always makes me depressed but anywho..). It said that China is now the biggest market for elephant ivory; they hire poachers to slaughter these beautiful animals to make gew-gaws and trinkets for the international black market. And, hm, tiger balls, bear gallbladders, shark fins, etc., somehow it seems like a lot of species are experiencing a (very great) threat to their survival based on these so-called Chinese medicines or delicacies or whatever it is that these cultures, or subcultures, are looking for.

Now, this is in no way a comparison between Western and Asian countries. I’m not pointing at the Asians and saying, you guys are destroying the environment single-handedly (altho, in certain cases they are doing a pretty good job as the culprit of the moment). This is in no way saying that Western societies are not to be held responsible for our environmental atrocities (and they are MYRIAD), because we SHOULD be.

What it is to say is that humans in general are pretty piss-poor at managing either themselves or the environment in any stable and self-sustaining way. The cultures that you look at these days…maybe indigenous tribes living in jungles…and you think, they are very in tune with nature, well, yes, they are probably more in tune with nature than I am because they have to LIVE in nature and that is not easy. There are animals that EAT you. Minor accidents can potentially make you dead. There is no deodorant. But also, population is everything. (and this idea is from Troy) The greater the population becomes, the more pressure is exerted on the environment whether you are an indigenous population in the jungle or a member of China’s burgeoning middle/upper class with the disposable income to buy a car or an illegal immigrant from Mexico (Guatemala/wherever) who is forced to either leave their country or continued to have no real work or a US citizen moving out to AZ or CA or NM to tax yet more of the limited water resources of the desert.  It is far easier to leave less of an envinronmental footprint when you are one of a tribe of 200 than when you are one of a country of 300 million or 1.3 billion.

There is no easy way to be more environmentally-friendly, to be more ‘in tune’ with the Earth. It actually requires a good bit of what we might think of as sacrifice. Somehow we have to find a balance between modern amentities and protecting this beautiful blue and green chunk of space debris before it is too late.

And that’s my soapbox for the evening.  Just stay away from that shark-fin soup.


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