Sunday, February 27, 2005

Co-existence

Co-existence is the key to peace.

Why do so many "left" leaning voters live in major population centers?

I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the environmental pollution that city living creates with it's more liberal aspects. But after a while I realised, that city dwelling need not create large amounts of waste (we can work to reduce it) and that city living might actually help take the pressure off the outer landscape while it heals. The benefit in city living is the way many people from many times and places live in close quarters, somehow managing to co-exist.

You know, we have a terrible reputation, us citydwellers. For being rat-racers, money driven, rude and pushy caffeine fueled deviants. But the reality, is that those of us who live in the densest parts of the city are among the worlds most tolerant occupants. We live side by side with others and have learned to accept the idiosyncrasies of other's many and varied beliefs. The most annoying things to us are not the rainbow coloured banners that our neighbor hangs above his/her bedsit window, but simpler things of more direct impact. Like the councils pneumatic drill at 8 am in the morning.

You see, we have learned to filter out the minor hazards of existing in close quarters, because otherwise we would go mad. So it's the left over major issues that irk us. Like killing people. And detaining and torturing people.

We are quite sensitive to war, because we are targets. We know that during war we will cop the shit first. Like Baghdad did. Like Belgrade. Like Dresden and London and so many other cities at so many other times. We don't like war one iota.

Surprisingly, we don't use that much stuff individually. Our environmental impact results from many small actions intensified in one location. We live congested lifestyles and don't have much room for "things". Some of us can drive but a lot of us don't actually own cars, or can't be bothered trying to park them if we do, so we use public transport. We use less fuel.

We admire our country counterparts, their idyllic lifestyles and their pastures. Their expanses of lake and land and dessert. Oh yes. Their dessert. Our dessert. The dessert we all helped create. The drought outside our cities. Because our rural counterparts suffer too. So much so, that they flock in droves to join us in the cities.

By 2030 prb estimates 60% of the worlds population will live in our cities. On the one hand this is positive, perhaps we will all become more tolerant for it. On the other hand, we need to act soon to make sure we can accommodate everyone comfortably with minimal distress.

This means taking a serious look at our environmental impact, our waste disposal, our modes of transport and our housing quality (no more crap concrete slap-up ghettos please. They are ugly, fall into disrepair too quickly, and I am so over cockroaches). Our energy consumption and our effluent, basically. How can we use the one efficiently, reduce the other, and recycle the waste?

Who do you hear most often expounding on these environmental issues? Yes, the city dweller. Because we know what it is to live with our neighbor's leaking open sewer next door, and our fumey highway nearby.

So you see, this population shift to the cities could be a good thing. Not only will we learn how to co-exist more tolerantly here, perhaps we also will learn how to use energy more efficiently and reduce our pollution. And yes, there is evidence that this can happen. Look at 17th century London. What a cesspit it was then. Is it still a cesspit? Well, that's debatable. At least people aren't still throwing raw sewerage onto their neighbor's in the tenements below.

Yes, our city infrastructures are under major stress, no they were never meant to cater for such large populations, yes we can do something about it. But first we need to stop wasting money on developing weapons. We need to stop using so much damn oil - those oil companies are a rip-off anyway. Look what they've done to our sisters and brothers around the world. Not mentioning any places, in particular.

And we need to stop chopping down the rainforests. What the hell does everyone do with all that wood.

Anyway. I just joined dailyKOS and I feel I have walked into a room filled with light. Into a city. So I'll just set up me bed-sit here and carry on imagining. The great thing about this city is, we don't produce much effluent in it. Inner space maximised, one might say. However, we will be sure to take the little thoughts and dreams we learn here into the wider world. Into our waking life, with our eyes open.

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