Monday, November 23, 2009

Lost in Translation...

English

I’m having a hard time explaining to my Indonesian housekeeper why it is environmentally irresponsible and on the long run, eventually dramatic to keep the lights on in the entire house all day! If the room is empty, turn off the light. Simple. And yet…

Right now she probably thinks I’m cheap…

I’ve tried explaining to her that my reasons are not financial but I think our newly created common language lacks the proper vocabulary and fails to project environment, global warming, carbon footprint, climate change, sustainable living, energy saving and other ecology-related concepts (explaining them in English is hard enough!!).

To be fair, and at the risk of sounding like I'm trying to show off; I'll use Maslow's hierarchy of needs nicely presented in the very suitable pyramid below: when you’re worried about whether you’ll manage to get a hold of your most basic survival necessities like food and whatnot, the Earth and its issues do not make your top 10 To-do list.

It's a pyramid because the base is made of the most important necessities. If these are not met, one cannot build on top of them to reach more abstract values and ideas. Logical... If your basic physiological needs are not met then how can you think of more abstract issues?



What's also noteworthy is the second stage of needs: Safety. When people don't feel safe, you can't expect them to spend time thinking about (and working for) greater issues; which is probably why war children in Lebanon* for instance, would have a hard time understanding why sustainable living is so important when they can hardly be sure they'll be (just) living tomorrow.
*(Lebanon's war children: our parents, our generation and the younger ones who we hoped would escape this insanity but ended up witnessing first hand war, destruction and death back in July 2006 when Israel decided it was OK to destroy most of Lebanon)


I cannot stop wars.
I cannot eradicate poverty.
I cannot educate all.

Basically, I cannot make this woman safe and confident that her future is not scary.

And somehow I need to explain to her that all those natural disasters the poorest populations suffer each year; her own population endures each year, happen for a reason which is not related to a god’s wrath or just plain bad luck.

They happen because human beings have been violating this Earth for so many years now, the damages and consequences are almost irreversible today.

So yes, the planet should be on everyone’s To-do list; at the very top.

And eradicating poverty.
And justice, equality and fair peace everywhere.
And educating all.

Old news one might say.

Yes. Old news.

And yet, we seem to need to be reminded every day.

So here's for today.

. S H A R E . T H I S . P ✮ S T .



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2 comments:

L'épice said...

now the really tricky question is why the men of your life are not interested in Ecology?! :p

~♪ bl✮g ♫~ said...

well... as I mentioned in the post, the women have managed to create a common language (as limited as it may be)

but... no common medium for communication with the men has been discovered yet

...

:-P