How one's environment effects their quality of life.
Out of my environment
In 2003 I was privileged to visit Lagos Nigeria. To say that I was totally in another World is the understatement of the year. I saw many elements of my home USA in the technology, automobiles and clothing, but that is where all similarities ended.
I expected the housing to be different and the lay of the land. But there were two differences that stand out to me which helped me to see how one's environment, or where one lives truly affects their quality of life.
The first thing that stands out for me was the lack of traffic signals. Traffic lights are important for keeping traffic flow organized and to prevent fatalities of humans trying to cross streets. What I noticed as my friends maneuvered me in their vehicles through the streets was a mindset that the lack of traffic signals created. There was a distinct selfishness as all directions of traffic merged onto each other. A new language emerged of car horns. There were the aggressive horns telling that a person was coming through whether they had the right of way or not. There was the horn tap of thank you's and requesting permission to get in front of a car. As one was trying to maneuver there were merchants young and old walking between cars, beating on windows to get the attention of those in the car to buy their bottled waters, towels, fruit, yogurt or whatever else they were peddling.
Fear pulsated me as this mass confusion overwhelmed my visual sensory. I feared we would get in a car accident. I feared we would injure or kill one of the children in the streets or entire families that were riding on one motor scooter. I feared a fight would break out as my friend yelled out the window at other drivers and they did likewise to him. I feared the Police officials that stood on street corners with large machine guns simply watching the chaos or stopping someone to check their papers.
This hostile environment was one full of stress, fear, and left the people with no cause for kindness and only the desire for self-preservation. It was an every man for himself mentality.
The second environmental difference was there were no sanitation provisions. Can you just imagine your life without a toilet? How would you like it if you lived on an island where there were community out houses where you had pitiful locks and a hole in the ground to pee and poop in that may or may not house a toilet seat? Don't even think about having something to clean your but with. If you didn't bring toilet paper with you, well sorry.
With no sanitation provisions garbage was swept from one's home into the streets. The ground became covered with compacted paper, plastic and food waste. You literally had to wash your feet, sanitize them when you came home from being out of doors.
These are just two environmental existences for the people of Lagos Nigeria. There were so many other things that killed the quality of life. In Nigeria the crime rate is extremely high among the common people. There is consistent scams and fraud committed by people so that they can simply get ahead in life. The love for one's fellow man is hard to come by when self preservation is the order of the day. So what about where you and I live?
In the US
Culture of a person is seen in their environment. You can almost know the personality of the culture of people as you drive through neighborhoods. Where there is lots of land per household and farm animals, you can almost guess these people live off what they grow and sell and community is basically within their homes, schools, churches and yearly festivals.
When you drive through a neighborhood where graffiti is on all the buildings and bridges, lawns grow weeds instead of manicured grass and flowers, vehicles are parked in conditions that you know it has not been moved or driven in months and stores are closed and boarded up, you know that you are most likely in a poor neighborhood where education is not of highest concern but food, covering and shelter for the day is.
There are neighborhoods that one drives through where industry is scattered between homes and smoke stacks fill the air. Everything in these areas are covered with soot. Electrical wiring are connected by tall poles and seem to wrap the area in their web. In these areas health is a large issue and many die early and suffer from cancers of many different sorts. People may have a good means of living but due to health issues, spend a lot of it on their health.
Cultures of affluence exist too. You know when you drive down these well manicured lawns and large homes that these people seem to have the best quality of life that money can buy. Their children drive motorized bikes and cars across the lawn and everyone over the age of eight seem to walk around with a mobile phone.
I could go on with generalizations on the culture of environments in the US but I believe I have made my point.
There is no doubt that where we live affects our quality of life in many ways. If we don't like the effects of our environment there are one of two things we can do. We can make changes to it, whether within ourselves and our families and branch out to our local communities, or we can move away from our environment to one that matches our desire.
The problem with the latter is that eventually the unwanted cultures move into our perfect little world whether by pollution, crime or cost of living. There is no real perfect environment as long as there are imperfect people. But there is always doing the best we can with what we have. The earth is but so big so we all have to clean up our act where we live so that everyone's environment will be a healthy happy one.
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