This post continues with Bright side of my carbon footprint, part 2
“How can you sleep peacefully, given your carbon footprint?!” was the first question when I arrived home from the journey around the world.
I sleep well!
Yes, my carbon footprint just from flying was 2.5 tons of CO2. But I traveled for my life’s calling and my love. I didn’t fly away whimsically to get some rest from all the stress in my office and my home, as so many people do.
I could decide to travel less and offset my carbon footprint. But I don’t think my individual action of tuning down my personal environmental mischiefs would change the world. I don’t think the mess in the world is the doing of a number of wicked individuals. It is the result (mostly) of collective stupidity.
The only antidote is more of collective wisdom, not more of individual ingenuity. I am learning on my travels about harnessing individual ingenuity and weaving it into collective wisdom.
I am lucky! I do what I do well, and I get to grow by meeting amazing people in many countries of the world. What to do with all this learning? It is almost my duty to record it and share it!
So, here is the first flower in the bouquet of learnings from my recent journey around the globe …
Panama: I love the free market!
Put delicious fruits on the ground in the park, and nobody will take them, even when they are free. Put these same fruits on a shelf in the supermarket, nicely packaged, and people will totally buy them.
Not only fruits! They will buy the entire system: their job to earn the money to pay taxes to have the supermarket to spend the money to buy the fruits. More than fruits: they will pay for the feeling of safe fruits to eat.
I admit, when I picked ripe mangos in a park at Ciudad del Saber in Panama City, I was a bit cautious. I picked the first mango from the ground, ate it and waited 24 hours just to be sure. My stomach was fine.
Why would I trust mangos in the supermarket any more than these? They come from the same kind of setup: some trees bearing some fruits and someone to pick them up!
So, I picked seven mangos and ate them. No problems!
I stayed in Panama only for a week, but I totally had my share of mangos! That is the free market I love, not the “free” market of the global extractionist economy.
The U.S.: shoes are mandatory (mind is optional)!
Freedom, in general, is a fantastic idea! And the human mind too.
For the mind to function well it needs to be free. And free society can only be created and maintained by big, wise minds.
When small minds dominate, the result is fear – both in the leadership and in the following. The worst of all is the fear of a non-existing ghost, stemming from ignorance and (even more) from disinformation, even well-intentioned.
That is when allegiance and adherence become dreary prison guards – ultimately self-enforced by the frightened masses, not by the dominant authority figures.
I enjoy intelligent conversations. My basic assumption when I speak with people is that they are intelligent and curious. When I face unhinging irrational bias, I don’t take it for granted, I try to go around the assumption, particularly when the assumption is: he is unadjusted and rebellious so I won’t take him seriously!
This happens to me sometimes simply because I don’t wear shoes.
I travel barefoot, and that is extremely rare, so I understand people being surprised, shocked or even offended. I’m used to being misjudged and mistreated by people who jump to conclusions or don’t attempt to understand me at all.
I agree: it’s normal to perceive me as maladjusted and rebellious. After all, I don’t wear shoes! I should mention, that’s exactly how I would be perceived 80 years ago if I didn’t wear a hat!
Behind the obvious lies the fear that I might abuse the extra freedom. Being barefoot means not abiding by social standards. Since I’m doing it simply of my own accord (that is, of course, the most logical assumption), how can I be trusted? Who knows what other unadjusted behaviors I might exhibit? I must be erratic and unreliable! This is certainly a sign that I’m self-centered and careless, isn’t it?
When people see that (apart from barefooting and casual dress) I speak with common sense and that I’m familiar with laws and social etiquette, they usually change their attitude and trust that I’m not going to abuse the extra freedom I’m allowing myself.
My freedom is greater than theirs, true, because it breaches the adherence and allegiance to prevalent norms. In the vast majority of cultures, social norms are beyond questioning. With globalization, however, most cultures became accustomed to accept and respect various social norms.
I’m stuck, however, since barefooting doesn’t belong to any major culture and even when it does that culture was most likely ruthlessly overridden by the uniformity of capitalism.
So, finally, here is my point about the U.S. … So far, I visited 43 countries barefoot, and in the U.S. the bias against barefooting was well above average. People who are against it (particularly people in uniforms) tend to be principled and persist that shoes are mandatory. There is little room for rational conversation. Only Spain came close to the U.S. in terms of suppressing barefooting.
I learned my lesson.
When I figure out I’m speaking with such people, I move away. Or, I put my sandals on for a minute or two – in the case when otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed to board my plane, for example. Only on flights to the U.S. did the security personal insist that I must put some shoes on, nowhere else.
I’d gladly trade a few minutes of putting the shoes on for a few minutes of other people switching their brains on. Unfortunately, the trade does not work that way …
As Sydney Smith said: “Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.”
Or as Duško Radović said: “When somebody is stupid, you can’t even prove that to him.”
I was lucky since my stay in the U.S. included a visit to La Cite Ecologique in New Hampshire. My bare feet didn’t bother anybody. (Or at least nobody objected.)
I enjoyed the company of fabulous people working towards regeneration of relationships and the environment — with their brains on. This beautiful, vibrant community educates children and grown-ups, has their own business, hosts events, grows their own food … Wonderful role-model for all those who strive for a sane society.
Canada: global warming, bienvenue!
North and South are relative terms. On a clear summer day, Montreal is magnificent. Locals said they wished there were more such days in the year and fewer grey, damp days. What if there is something good coming with global warming — at least for such regions?
But wait a minute!
Montreal is slightly further south than my warm Mediterranean hometown Koper! In Koper, we hardly ever have snow, while in Montreal there are more than 100 days with snow annually. In Montreal, summers are rather humid and rainy, while in Koper summers are hot and dry.
I understand when people living far north desire less severe winters and sunnier summers. I lived in Sweden for 1.5 years and I (literally) escaped when the second winter was nearing.
But I don’t think we should celebrate climate change. It is not bringing warmer weather to the North with only daisies, grapes, and tomatoes. Side effects are, really, unpredictable. Same for my town of Koper: if Europe loses the Gulf Stream, we might end up frozen for half a year; after all, we are further north than Montreal!
Living in a certain place comes with appreciating the natural riches of that place. For Montreal, that’s snow and ice, frequent summer rains, vast forests and lakes, wild life … and maple syrup!
I love maple syrup! It would be such a loss if global warming wiped away all the maple syrup.
I stayed in Montreal for only two days, but it was enough to be inspired by the city. Lush green public areas and gardens, warm, welcoming people. By the way, nobody objected to my barefootedness or denied me access because I didn’t wear shoes.
My next stop is Shanghai, and that’s what my next blog will be about … I imagined censure, suspicion, and control right at the airport. China surprised me.
More about it next week in Bright side of my carbon footprint, part 2!