In 2005 I was living in Belgium, and at that point I had been there long enough to live very similar to how Belgians lived. The primary differences being how I wore my clothes and my desire for an inefficient, gas guzzling Jeep instead of the 4-cylinder diesel engines they were living and dying by. The small town that I was in charged for trash pick-up and recycling, but you were given the option to take your own trash to the container park and they’d charge you for every bag of trash, but recycling was free. When I arrived there in 2004, in my first 2 months I didn’t fully grasp this concept. I wasn’t making a lot of trash, but when I put it outside in the dumpster, it was never picked up…and I wasn’t checking. It took 2 months to fill up to the point I could no longer put trash in. I ended up paying 100 Euro for a special collection to take all my trash and recyclables away, then I never used a dumpster while there again.
In 2006, after living outside of the United States for 6 years I returned with a totally new outlook on life. I discovered MySpace and thought “wow, you can just connect with people and play music on your page”. I joined and I asked the Las Vegas locals at the time “where can I take my recyclables or trash” and they responded how you probably imagine they would. The polite people would say “I don’t know”, or “that’s a good question” …outside of those two people I got “OK Captain Planet, just put it in the dumpster” or “get the f*** out of here” or “what kind of lame sh*t is this” and so on. I went to the grocery store and bought just enough stuff to make a meal and some snacks, so when people came to my house, they assumed I was poor or a dude that just ate out all the time. When I did eat out, the portions were enormous and the food itself mostly mediocre. It was a major Aha moment if you will.
Right now I’m stuck somewhere between what if, what might, what could have and what never will, and all I want to know is what actually is.Christina Hart
Being back in America, I felt like part of the problem again. Well, I can’t say “again” because I didn’t recognize my way of life as a problem until experiencing a different way of life. My experiences in Europe and Asia were vastly different than the United States and this led me to recognize that the American way of excess, is f*cked up to put it nicely. Unfortunately, other parts of the world mimic us because of the marketing of the “American way”. In the small town I lived in while in Belgium, it was considered car or bike dependent because there were more homes than available jobs, so people had to go to the city or another part of the area to work. However, banking, restaurants, fresh groceries, entertainment, worship, school, and even brothels were all in walking distance. Going to the city all of this stuff was just in closer proximity and taller buildings were added. Very few places in the United States are like this. Outside of the big cities, pretty much the entire country is car dependent and very few things are in walking distance regardless of where you live.
Outside of the Polynesian countries, only Kuwait boasts more obese people than the United States. Considering how small and financially rich Kuwait is, it makes more sense that they’re chubby. About two thirds of the country is born into solid middle, upper middle or wealthy class with guaranteed white-collar jobs if they even have to work…the rest are immigrants from other countries seeking work as laborers and things of that nature, many of whom are in great shape from working construction and all that. I would posit that, had it not been for American influence, they wouldn’t be obese at a greater rate than the United States either. The obvious problem, our infrastructure is poorly designed in most places, and we buy, eat and live far in excess of what we need. There is a constant jockeying for appearances, a desire to impress people which seems to fuel this neurotic existence we’re quietly known for. This “American Dream” is marketed as the freedom to be whatever you want, unlimited upward mobility and a lifestyle on par with the wealthy and elites in other countries. However, that dream is a nightmare for the environment.
The human population has grown to a point that we are like a virus to our host planet. Much like viruses in our body, we spread and destroy and then seek viable existence elsewhere. Mars is an unrealistic endeavor, and Venus is more problematic than Mars which means the Earth is truly all we have. Until we discover time travel, it shall remain all we have. If that realization somehow found its way into the minds of everyone today, I fear people would simply consume and waste more and use “you only live once” as an excuse for being crappy human beings. The “American way” is a celebration of a collective bound by ideas that foster and celebrate self-centeredness and inefficiency if we’re being honest with ourselves.
The sadly needed disclaimer
Granted, I know the types of people that wear Freedom shirts and clothing styled out of the American flag, are probably not interested in what I have to say ever, the following disclaimer is still necessary given the sensitive, pretend patriotic climate we live in. This expression of my ideas and opinions about the American way, is not due to a lack of love for, or respect for the country I’m from, quite the opposite actually. If someone I loved was in front of me with dried spit on their cheeks, a booger conveniently dangling, with their attire all sloppy and they were unaware somehow, the last thing I’d do is pretend everything was fine. Clearly, everything is not fine. That love for them compels me to tell them what is wrong. It would be a display of indifference to recognize these issues, and simply put that person on display for the rest of the world to mock and use for their gain. So, if you have an American flag shirt wearing relative or friend that sees no wrong in this country besides liberals and the “woke” agenda, you can let them know that’s not love they’re showing for America, it’s lust. Their ideas only serve to f*ck us all.