A tragi-comic essay on the beauty of China

Only one writer in our blogosphere could have written this upsetting diatribe, but since he apparently is trying to be anonymous I won’t say who it is. It’s long, it’s torturous and it’s a jaw-dropper. Go see for yourself.

Update: Like Gordon, who hosted this post, I’d like to say that it does not reflect my own viewpoint and that it might offend some readers. Maybe it’s over the top and maybe I should have thought about it longer before I linked, but I still think it will be of interest to many readers. I know, I sound somewhat conflicted – because I am.

The Discussion: 77 Comments

Jaw-dropping is the right word although I could think of plenty of other adjectives to describe it.

He says he’s been ‘in-country’ for quite a while. Therefore I cannot understand why is he comparing China so literally to America, just like someone who’s been here in China for 5 minutes, maybe less.

I’m still trying to work out what point is he trying to prove by dragging young ladies into toilets and asking them to take a smell? That some/a lot of Chinese toilets are smelly? Yeah, ok….and?

I mean, most or all Chinese people will quite happily tell him or anyone that China remains a poor country despite the recent improvements.

Anyway, the main point of this “essay” was that China environment is poor and some or a lot of the people have little respect for the environment.

Great, personally I think it’s pretty obvious but, hey, maybe I’m the one that’s wierd.

July 3, 2005 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

I agree with your point about the bathrooms, and I wondered about it as well. (The student was probably scared to death and a bit bewildered at that moment.)

I think this writer went through some very hard times (as you can tell from the description of the hospital), and he feels a good deal of anger, some of it very understandable, some of it…I don’t know, maybe an over-reation, maybe a result of China fatigue…

I have never gone through what this writer has, at least nowhere near the degree of his experiences. There were, however, two expat bloggers in our community (both are now inactive) who lived in similarly rural areas far from the coastal cities, and both had surprisingly similar stories to tell, much like this essay. They, too, were there for a long time. Whether their accounts are balanced and representative of life there, I can’t say. But I can say the effects on both of them were exactly the same: outrage, utter frustration, depression, despair, and a lot of anger.

I linked to it because I suspect it’s a circumstance more than one expat in China is going through, because I thought it was exceptionally well written and because certain descriptions brought back memories of my own experience.

July 3, 2005 @ 5:19 pm | Comment

I see it as a rant, like Gordon’s recent post about the dog relieving itself in front of his elevator. It’s way over the top and the guy’s hysterical but it’s quite a read. Unlike your own posts that focus on the Communists, this one might qualify for China bashing because it only leaves readers with negative feelings about China. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it does seem brimming with disgust at the dirty Chinese people.

July 3, 2005 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

Ben, I cannot really disagree with you. I believe in the writer’s mind he is “telling it like it is” and not China bashing. But I can see it coming acrtoss that way.

I added an update to the post; please be sure to see it.

July 3, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

Ok, just reading the post again, I can feel the frustrations of the writer coming through loud and clear and he genuinely has my sympathy (particularly over the hospital visit) as he comes across as a genuine and caring person and someone who shows concern about what goes on around him:

“Suffering and pride are irrevocably intertwined into an illness that absolves personal responsibility on part of its people towards its own people.”

Is he wrong, about this and most other things in his essay? No, I don’t think he is and I can’t say that I haven’t felt exactly the same way on many occasions.

The solution for me personally was to make my peace with China and try and reach a sort of equilibrium in my own mind because without an equilibrium, China is going be the end of you in more ways than one.

A big help was living with my Chinese family (out of choice) which helped me appreciate that most of foreigner’s frustrations are almost equally shared by Chinese people themselves. It seems silly now that I once thought they were immune to it all!

My girlfriend owns a shop in Guangzhou’s equivilent of Beijing’s Wangfujing. When she was first setting up, every single person and company she had to deal with was akin to fighting a war. Phone calls, arguments, I could tell you stories that would make your noses bleed.

Therefore, I thought that if the people here can live with the frustrations of China then so could I.

Sure, things ain’t always perfect but I’m happy here most of the time. Sure, I often use the Peking Duck as a catharsis but, hey, nobody’s pefect.

July 3, 2005 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

Well, I think I can make an educated guess as to who that was.

While it is a bit ranty, he has a point. I, for one, do get very tired of the relentless delusional optimism about how nice China is, followed by the “China is a poor country” as a rebuttal to negative points. Many things you can see every day on the streets of China speak of a blinding lack of concern for others.

There are other poor countries in the world. They manage a little civic responsibility. It’s not that hard.

July 3, 2005 @ 7:09 pm | Comment

Dear All:

I just returned from a weekend away in Beijing (not with Dr. Myers, but with my girlfriend, Gao Ying) and so I have only just become aware of her analysis this morning. It is now 10am here in Shenzhen.

It will take me a little while to analyse her comments, but I shall, of course, respond! – probably this afternoon.

Thank you all, for your patience.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 3, 2005 @ 8:00 pm | Comment

China is not America. And I think, thank heaven for that. It sure would not be interesting if it were. This not to say I don’t have my own frustrations living here. I still do. But I having choosen to live here as a guest of the Chinese I would rather not publicly bad mouth China in minutia. That does not mean I do not react to some of the things that irritate me.

I have always have a visceral reaction to the phenomena of Chinese car owners and driveers, especially parking their cars so as to block sidewalks to pedestrians. It is so lazy and inconsiderate. I thought I saw a good solution to this frustrating problem in a comment on the net. That person would just pull out from the windshield the windshield wipers so they would stick out and also bend the outside rear view mirrors in so they did not focus correctly. Him/her noted, no damage to the cars, just a minor inconvenience. Over time at certain locations the repeat drivers would get the message and quit blocking the sidewalks.

Sometimes I ask Chinese people in a nice way to pick up their throwaways and put them in waste contains. Others who notice sometimes smile. One time I told a schoolboy, 8 to 12 I guess, in front of his football playing friends to pick up the pop can he just threw on the ground. Many of the kids laughed and pointed at my culprit. He picked it up. A little embarrassment may be makes the lesson stronger.

I may be an ugly American, but if someone doesn’t know a better way, I don’t mind telling them.

July 3, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

I called out a Chinese guy for cutting ahead of me on a line at the airport. I couldn’t believe how brazen he was about it. He glared at me, sucking his teeth and looking like Ridley Scott’s Alien; I expected a second head to come flying out of his mouth and bite my own head off. As his exploding head spun about wildly on his shoulders and eerie black smoke shot out from both his ears, I decided it wasn’t worth making a scene and I shut up.

July 3, 2005 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

That’s it? China’s a filthy country just because of its toilets and overall sanitation system? I admit about halfway through scanning the rest but in vain did I find anything about the spitting, the public urinating, the art of blowing one’s nose sans tissue, etc.
My biggest shock when I arrived off trhe ferry in France was the toilets- holes in ground with no paper in sight. As much as I hold antipathy towards that state, it is a wondrous country whose beauty makes it a joy to cycle through.
The toilets in Greece were the worst I ever encountered (until I arrived here in China) but when thinking back on my year there I never seem to recall them. And Greeks seem to remind me of Beijingers here. ..
Maybe it’s because Greeks who live in the poorest country in the EU, don’t use this poverrty to shrug off such a situation. They would never say “We have no partition/door separating people in cubicles or preventing people from watching others taking a shit because we are too poor to hire someone skilled enough to erect one.” Extreme poverty in the Peloponesse where I lived never prevented men from throwing away their dignity but rather made them seem all the more intent on emphasing it, especially in front of their family from whom they earned respect. In my school I can literally hear some guy who works in admin spitting in the loo the floor above; in Greece where they see a drunk friend as one incurring great shame, they would be horrified.
So I don’t accept the argument that people are poor and therefore one can accept such a mentality. They aren’t that poor if they’re building $3million opera houses or $3 billion rockets or upgrading their arsenal against superpower Taiwan, or hosting the Olympics where visitors may be in for a shock…
How’s that for a rant, Ben? I’m off to Ireland tomorrow but when I get back, I’ll buy you a round at a bar near my hutong in Houhai and instead of reading such unpleasantness, you can see it yourself.

July 3, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment

The big question is why do anal westerners stay in China? Does shit stink and what does that have to do with the beauty of China? “The markets were full of spices, and Ellena smelled lotus roots; when macerated in water, the root produces a smell halfway between peony and hyacinth. He also found some jasmin sambac, which is full of indoles, molecules that smell overwhelmingly animalic. Feces are rich with indoles, he explained to Gautier and Dubrule, and so are decomposing bodies. Itโ€™s feminine, the smell of death. Calvin Kleinโ€™s Eternity is a heavily indolic perfumeโ€”the name must have been ironic, he joked.” http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/050314fa_fact Even in the US, hygiene has a history. Smells have a history. Excrement has a history. My poor (and very clean) grandmother in Kentucky had an outhouse until the late 60’s. I remember trying to explain to a friend that, yes, the shit just piles up. You can sprinkle lye on it from time to time but your job is there for everyone to see until it dissolves into the mass. On cold winter nights you do your business in an enamel “slop bucket” that has to be emptied out in the morning. You gain a familiarity with excrement. I was in ShangHai for the first time last fall and the green wicked sewer smells rising from the streets left an indelible impression. I was delighted! It’s like an old perfume. China is so much more interesting than these people and no amount of cleanliness and order will forestall their own fall into disorder and decay.

July 3, 2005 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

To each his own, Shockeye. Whatever floats your boat.

July 3, 2005 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

I second Ben, when he says that this peice of writing is little more than a rant. And Richard, I don’t think it’s even all that well written to be frank.

I have yet to visit a country where the quality of toilets hasn’t varied enormously. One of the most shocking toilets that I have ever walked into was at a train station in Yokosuka, Japan, and public toilets in Australia and New Zealand and Britain and France all vary in quality as well. Some are state of the art, others look and smell medieval.

And as for people throwing their litter onto the ground – well, once again, I see examples of that everywhere I go, not only here in China, but in the world. I remember once, for example, standing at a set of traffic lights in the plush Jewish suburb of Golders Green in north west London, waiting to cross Finchly Road, when all of a sudden some guy pulled up in a BMW, wound down his window, and discarded onto the middle of the road a paper bag full of McDonald’s take-away rubbish. My friend Margaret was so outraged, that she quickly darted over, picked up the rubbish, and threw it back through the window and onto his lap. A brief argument erupted, he threw it back out, and then sped off.

As I said, what this writer has produced, is little more than a rant. What he paints as being characteristic of China, one can obseve almost anywhere.

regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 3, 2005 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

I agree it’s a rant, and as I said in my update I had second thoughts about posting it. But to say littering in China is the same as most other places — well, that’s just not true. I’ve never seen such willfuful denial of the existence of trash cans as I saw in China. I’ll never forget the park in Yunnan I visited where I saw a veritable wall of styrofoam cups and empty cigarette packs and other trash. Including human shit. And that is something I have never, ever, ever seen in other countries. Sorry, but it’s true. I never saw that in England. Or America. Or Thailand. Not even impoverished El Salvador.

As for writing style, I think the post is outstanding. Whether we agree about the content is another story.

July 3, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Hmmm.

I think the guy has a decent point when he remarks that private homes are clean. I think this is the takeaway message, really. China isn’t dirty, just the public areas.

I think eventually people will demand better, but it’ll take a little longer. It may never reach the hyper-clean Japan, Switzerland or Germany, but I think it’ll get at least as good as Britain.

As to shit – I feel I’m pretty comfortable with shit. I like to camp in the woods, and therefore do my business there a lot too. I grew up using outhouses during vacations in West Virginia and New Mexico, and am very comfortable with it – although the scorpions in NM were a bit much to deal with. However, I don’t really see why bathrooms should be so smelly. It’s not like squat toilets and tile/concrete is hard to mop down with disinfectant. The thing about proper outhouses is that it is contained, and useful. The messes in Chinese toilets is neither. But like I say, it’ll get better with economic development, I think. Eventually all the engineers will stop designing dams and will start renovating the sewer systems, perhaps.

However, the post cuts off the nose to spite the face, in some ways. Shit is still just shit. The biggest problem in China with public dirtiness is actually the pollution. This is a REAL problem, and stands only to get worse unless something is done.

http://tinyurl.com/bsv7v

July 3, 2005 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

“Therefore, I thought that if the people here can live with the frustrations of China then so could I.”
here here

every time I get riled up all I have to do is remember that I deal with less than the locals, and I chose to be here and can leave just about whenever I want. they can’t. course that usually depresses me a hell of a lot more than whatever it was that got me mad in the first place

a friend of mime made an interesting comment recently. he said he thought it interesting that while most chinese people keep their homes very clean they will be dirty outside. but foreigners seem to be a bit messier at home but are usually tidy outside.

when we talk about public spaces, at base it’s about how people view others. it has been said to me that the government/other people do not respect the individual, so why should they? my internal self screams out against this idea, the way I treat others should not be dictated by the way I am treated. but what right do I have to use my world view to measure others against? screw dirty bathrooms, that’s something I struggle with.

July 3, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Mark, I disagree and think that it’s actually dangerous to say that China is just like any other country. I think toilets are not important, in the long run. But pollution is, and the willingness to pollute might be, to some extent reflected in the willingness to throw trash on the ground.

Britain is filthy at 1 am in the morning, agreed. The british do not have trash cans to throw into, because of IRA terror. Or so I’m told. Anyway, it’s filthy here. But it’s all cleaned up by 7 am. China is fast becoming a consumer nation on a scale never before seen, and I would much prefer to see it go the way of Japan and Germany, who recycle, than Cambridge, UK, who does not. How you dispose of rubbish can simply destroy natural parks – Changbaishan is littered with debris at Tianchi – or it can poison children, kill wildlife and make your life hell. China is having to deal with pollution right now, and once they start to clean that up, they’ll probably start to tackle trash.

July 3, 2005 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

Laowai, that’s the longest link I think I’ve ever seen. Try tinyurl.com and you won’t knock the borders all to hell.

I’ve done it for you:

http://tinyurl.com/bsv7v

July 3, 2005 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

fixed

July 3, 2005 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

I take your point, but I have been to parks in countries other than China which would match the description that you gave of that park in Yunnan.

Dear Laowai,

I agree with you when you say that pollution is a bigger problem in China than litter or the varying quality of public toilets. But then look, I have never argued otherwise!

I’ve been to parks in Germany, and have walked down streets in Germany too, that have been full of litter, and that have smelt pretty bad due to poor sewage systems. And while Japan is generally cleaner than Germany in terms of litter, I wouldn’t cite it as a particulalry good model either: its cities are dangerously polluted. Air quality in Japan ranks among the world’s most toxic in fact, and that’s because tens of thousands of incinerators spew highly carcinogenic dioxins into the air each day. At present, Japan has the greatest concentration of dioxins amongst all the advanced industrial nations – something like 4.9 tons a year per square kilometre.

The streets and parks here in the Futian District of Shenzhen are very clean and tidy, and unlike the parks Japan (especially in Tokyo, Kawazaki and Yokohma) they are not full of homeless people lounging around among seas of discarded beer cans. Some of Tokyo’s park almost resemble refugee camps – they’re tent cities for the homeless and destitute.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to Japan on four occasions, and I spent a year living there, and I really loved the place. But I think that many of the problems that China struggles to deal with are by no means unique to China. The writer of the article in question fails to acknowledge that. And his behaviour in asking a young girl to stick her head into a public toilet to smell how bad it is, is indicative of his immaturity and lack of judgement.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 3, 2005 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

Mark,

Didn’t know about the dioxins in Japan. Yeesh, and I thought Pennsylvania was bad. I’m glad I’ll be getting my girlfriend out of there soon. Course, I’m not sure new york is any better.

Check out my post on air quality in China (kindly given a nice short link by Martyn). I’d be interested to know what you think.

Do you think maybe the rubbish problem has more to do with the people that should be picking it up rather than the people who shouldn’t be throwing it down? I guess it’s both. Littering fines, if enforced, do have an effect. But they sure are vigilant in Cambridge about picking up the pub-run rubbish in the morning.

July 3, 2005 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

Yes, a little cultural-relativism would have made it far more palatable, with sparse amounts of political theory (i.e. intellectual masturbation) thrown in just to satisfy those readers who demand such awareness to coincide with their egocentrical-expert comments.

July 3, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Dear Laowai,

I will comment on China’s air quality after lunch – I’m starving right now – but very briefly, I think you are right about the litter problem: here in China, most cities do not have very effective public street cleaning systems yet, though here in Shenzhen they do. The streets in the area that I live in are very clean and orderly – certainly cleaner than many parts of London for example. The parks here are spotless too – and there are many of them, all with free entry.

But in other, more provincial cities, litter is certainly a problem, partly because public street cleaning services are insufficient. The other half of the problem, as you said, lies in education. Many people here in China thoughtlessly discard their rubbish onto the street. But this is also a problem in many other countries, even in the developed industrialised world. When I taught at a school in east London (which I did for two years) I was horrified by how large numbers of the students were accustomed to throwing away their rubbish (empty crisp packets, etc) onto the street, or in the playground. They were much bigger litter-bugs than Australian students, that’s for sure.

My mother, a few years back, played host to an American woman for a few weeks, who often commented to us how much cleaner she thought Australia was than the States. I remember driving her up north west to visit the wineries of the Hunter Valley one weekend. We dined al fresco while at Wyndam Estate, and she seemed genuinely impressed by the fact that, despite the numbers of visitors there that day, that she could detect no litter anywhere. She told me that such places back in the States would normally be full of litter on such occasions.

Now I’m not trying to have a stab at Americans here – don’t misread me. I’m sure that America is generally a very clean and tidy country, but my point here is that no matter what country you visit, you can always find places that look like rubbish tips, be it in China, America, Australia, Japan, or wherever.

Australia for example, is famous for its prisitine and beautiful beaches, and for good reason – they are exceptionally beautiful, even in Sydney. But what many don’t realise is that local councils employ rubbish collectors to scan the beaches very early each morning with metal detectors, so as to remove any syringes that might be hidden in the sand. Drug users often discard them after shooting up late at night. California’s beaches, I imagine, probably have the same problem. Welcome to the modern world.

At least China doesn’t have that problem – yet.

Regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 3, 2005 @ 10:53 pm | Comment

Mark

With regard to shringes and what not, or more specifically, heroin use, Chinese cities are comparable to west from what I’ve read and seen.

In fact, bearing in mind the comparative prices of heroin in, say, London – US$140-190 and Bejing, Guangzhou and Shanghai – US$12-48, I’d say perhaps more prevalent here in China.

I have it on good authority that about 80% of the young (and not so young) ladies that solicit on the streets in Guangzhou, particularly outside hotels, are users.

I’ve also heard that Yunan and the mule routes from Burma are also infested with addicts.

Heroin use in China is a problem that the authorities do well to cover up, and that’s assuming that they are actually aware of it, which I doubt.

By the way, the next time a girl approaches you in China, check out her eyes, if her pupils are absolutely tiny, like little black dots, then the chances are that she’s on heroin. It’s called being “pinned”.

July 3, 2005 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

Obviouslly this diatribe means that the Chinese, collectively, are not fit to rule themselves via an elected government due to total disregard for the public sphere. Which is why they naturally should be ruled with an iron fist.

July 3, 2005 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

Dear Martyn,

Yes I take your point about China having many heroin users. I’m aware of that. I have also, with my own eyes, seen people here in Shenzhen, men in business suites, sniffing cocaine at a kareoke bar.

But my point was that China, as yet, doesn’t have the problem of heroin users discarding their syringes in significant numbers on the sands of local beaches. That problem doesn’t as yet exist here, like it does on some of Australia’s beaches. I have yet to come across a discarded syringe littered on the sidewalk here either, but I have on many occasions in numerous other countries.

Regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 3, 2005 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Jing,

Your comment took me for a loop until I realized that surely you were being sarcastic.

July 4, 2005 @ 12:29 am | Comment

Cleanest public toilets I’ve ever seen anywhere – Madrid. Absolutely pristine.

I think such problems in China are due primarily to the lack of a strong civic consciousness and sense of mutual responsibility – the CR destroyed whatever altruistic, “we’re all in this together” sentiments that the Revolution managed to instill. Until people in China feel that public spaces are theirs, why should anyone take responsibility for them?

It’s very different when you go to a city like Xi ‘An that has created some really nice public plazas and parks – not enclosed, open to all – they are clean, pleasant, people throw their trash in the trashcans, etc. People seem really proud of these public spaces that they get to enjoy, and I daresay there’s a sense of ownership there.

July 4, 2005 @ 1:38 am | Comment

Barcelona had nice toilets too.

I know Mark has found some dirtyJapanese public toilets, but I found the ones in Tokyo and Yokohama to be very clean.

July 4, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment

I’ve been saying for a long time that the Chinese government would do good to turn the propaganda machine on the environment.

I have literally seen people standing next to a trash receptacle throw their garbage on the ground in front of them rather than lean over and drop it where it belongs.

Maybe they think that because there are so many street sweepers gracing the landscapes that someone will pick it up sooner or later?

Then again, it could just be ignorance. Like OL stated, they haven’t been taught to respect a sense of community.

July 4, 2005 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Yes, well most public toilets in Japan are clean. The one at the Yokosuka-chuo train station most certainly was not though! – that was back in 1999 though, so perhaps they’ve cleaned it up a little since then.

I agree with Other Lisa here too, that there is a growing civic consciousness here in China, which is something that I have discussed elsewhere on the pages of Peking Duck – it is evidenced in part by the huge increases in the number of Non-Government Organisations; many of which act as advisory bodies with the formulation of government policy, and a good many of them are environmental lobby groups. The media here too, is playing an increasingly important role in exposing unsocial practices – including poor environmental practices – all of this is very encouraging I think.

Regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 4, 2005 @ 2:15 am | Comment

frankly i think the media is stupid and not doing any good at all. and i read it every day.

July 4, 2005 @ 2:28 am | Comment

Dear Kevin,

Are you watching the mainland Chinese television stations, and are you reading the Chinese newspapers – in Chinese, not the English-version papers, or CCTV-9?

I cannot undertsand putonghua, but I very often get my girlfriend to translate. We were watching a very interesting expose on CCTV-1 only yesterday in fact, criticising government policies on urban waste disposal, which pointed out that somewhere between 8 to 10 percent of yearly GDP in China is lost due to environmental damage.

We watch these kinds of critical exposes almost daily, on the local TV stations too.

Regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 4, 2005 @ 2:43 am | Comment

Not to belittle the importance of sanitation and how it affects some people, but I tend to agree with Mark about toilets, the media and pollution.

CCTV had a story last month on Xiaojiadian Village in Shangdong where pollution from upstream factories is killing villagers at the following rate:

2000: 17 died (11 from cancer).
2001: 16 died (9 from cancer).
2003: 19 died (12 from cancer)
2004: 21 died (14 from cancer).

This in a village that had 2,100 inhabitants in 1995, down to 1,350 now (the result mainly of families sending their children to live elsewhere).

Compared with the US press, which is still running stories about Nike suppliers, I think the Chinese press is doing a pretty good job.

If you want to see the whole CCTV story – which was on Economics Half Hour [Jingji ban xiaoshi] – see here. Compare it to the latest Nike story from the US here.

July 4, 2005 @ 2:50 am | Comment

Um, that would be Shandong… right?

July 4, 2005 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Yes, I read Chinese newspapers and watch CCTV, unfortunately. Yes I understand them. Basically all environmental stories I’ve watched are filled with sentimental BS about how the Party is getting its shit together and saving the environment. Frankly I don’t see much value to such stories, and I certainly haven’t seen many improvements. There are also plenty of so-called stories on the news about corruption, and I don’t see any progress in that area either. I could do a better job of tracking down such problems on my own than CCTV and the rest of the BS media does now. Unfortunately, “they” don’t want that to happen. There is to be no open and unbarred discussion of such problems. That’s why they come out with these trite little reports about the govt caring about these things and cracking down, “saving the day,” basically to cover up for the fact that not much is being done.

July 4, 2005 @ 3:17 am | Comment

there have also been reports in the media about “liangji fenhua,” or the income gap. of course these stories are just the tip of a very nasty iceberg, and they in fact don’t do much except silence the discussion of more negative aspects.
it’s like going to the doctor and having them talk straight with you about your herpes, when you’ve actually got cancer. what good is that going to do?

July 4, 2005 @ 3:22 am | Comment

to expand on this analogy of news reports and doctors: who will cure your herpes?
well, the party will always save the day, right?
unfortunately, it and the entire system that it has created is the root cause of the cancer, which is all being overlooked.
god, the chinese media if f—in horrible.

July 4, 2005 @ 3:40 am | Comment

I’m encouraged that the Chinese MSM is talking about these things more, however it doesn’t change the basic fact that the CCP already had guidelines and standards – they just aren’t enforced. It’s the central control problem – the big guys at the CCP are trying to do the best they can, but the little guys are just trying to make a buck, and pollution will keep like this until maybe those NGOs mark mentioned get into investigation and watchdog organisation. A recent article in Nature cites 300,000 deaths from pollution in China a year. (all on my post http://tinyurl.com/bsv7v plug plug ๐Ÿ™‚ )

July 4, 2005 @ 3:44 am | Comment

In my time in China I’ve lived in and visited a wide variety of places. Good places, bad places, beautiful places, ugly places, clean places, dirty places, you name it…..

There have been times when the only thing I’ve wanted in this world was a one way ticket back to New Zealand, where everything is clean and green and there’s rugby on TV every weekend.

But I did go back to NZ for a while, and then I came back to China, and I realised something: Life in China is difficult, often infuriating. There’s a myriad of problems to be dealt with every day, from having to pee on a large, stinking pile of the whole community’s shit, to trying to cross a road infested with cadre-black Passats driven by wankers who think they are the law. That’s one of the reasons why life here is so bloody interesting, and it’s because life here is so bloody interesting that I’ve stayed.

And there’s another thing I’ve noticed in my time here: Fellow foreigners who can’t hack it anymore. There are many reasons why, most of which are perfectly valid, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. Fact is, we all reach our limit and we all need to take a break from China at some stage. But there is one basic principle at work here: If you don’t like it, leave.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:05 am | Comment

“If you don’t like it, leave.”

I checked your site out, and gosh darn, it isn’t filled with bright, cheery happy every day stuff. Now is it? You suppose you can leave too?

July 4, 2005 @ 4:18 am | Comment

“If you don’t like it, leave.”

That is, actually, one phrase that I have grown to hate over the years.

I don’t agree that “there is one basic principle at work here” i.e. “if you don’t like it, leave.” No, not at all as it implies that those of us living here have no right to complain about anything despite the fact that you yourself admit that we all ‘reach our limit’ and ‘need to take a break’.

I mean, how do you know that Hank hasn’t reached his limit and needs that break? Should he really be told to leave just because he complains?

Hank’s married I believe so how do you know that he can’t leave for whatever reason?

Chris, I read your blog and I never honestly thought I’d hear that line from you of all people, really.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:03 am | Comment

I still haven’t quite figured out what draws foreigners to live in the Chinese countryside. It’s not like it’s a secret that rural China is poor and often filthy. If you don’t like it, why not live in a place like Shanghai or Shenzhen where it’s not such an issue? Maybe some of you here can explain the draw of villages and small towns.

Like some of you, I have also spoken out when witnessing flagrant litterers, especially when a trash can is within a step or two. On occasion I have picked the trash up, handed it back to them, and told them in Chinese “The trash can is right there” or asked them “Don’t you love your motherland?”

The offender usually immediately and smilingly complies with my request. Probably they walk away thinking I’m an @sshole foreigner, but at least I can fool myself into thinking I’ve done something about trash in my neighborhood. Sometimes I feel a strong need to go through the motions of “Think globally, act locally”, even if now it sometimes seems like a sentiment from another galaxy.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:06 am | Comment

By the way, speaking of trash in the countryside, does anyone have any idea what it was like in the American countryside of the 19th century?

When I see the debris and garbage piled around a typical Chinese village, I wonder if that’s what it was like in the American West. I somehow doubt it was as pristine as “Bonanza” would have us believe. I suspect it was closer to the grit and trash of “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”.

How about in other developing nations? Is China in any way atypical in this respect? Does anyone have any knowledge about this? My own personal experience is too small to draw upon.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:13 am | Comment

Martyn,
Why is my name being brought up here? I have nothing to do with this article or anything else. I’m foreigner. That’s all.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:22 am | Comment

OK.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:27 am | Comment

people that throw garbage on the ground really get my goat. ive lived here for years, and people seem to have very little respect for their own country. it all boils down to chinese not having a sense of civic responsiblity. i think it comes from the destructive influence of the cultural revolution. thats what my mom tells me (my local wife’s mother).

July 4, 2005 @ 5:37 am | Comment

Chris, I’m sure the CR had a lot to do with it, but I’m wondering about that “ma mu” indifference-to-strangers thing that Lu Xun wrote about.

I see it as a common thread linking so many things that bother me.

July 4, 2005 @ 5:54 am | Comment

Kevin,

What in God’s name are you rambling on about young man? What flows like sewage from your tongue smells like nothing other than a foul and paranoid rant.

It seems as though you are finding your life here in China to be a daily struggle. I mean what’s the matter with you boy? Are you an effeminate fellow or what? If I, a 64 year old woman who hails from the plush leafy suburbs of north-west London can hack it out here in China, then why can’t you? Same goes for the writer of the article baked for this thread.

I’m having an absolute ball here in China. In fact, I’ve been here now for almost twelve years, and I have met many other women of my age here who are also enjoying themselves. If we can tolerate a Chinese public toilet, then why can’t you healthy young Americans?

I spent my first four years here living in a small remote village in the province of Hunan, among peoples of the Yao and Zhang ethinc minorities. As far as defecating went, most of us used to simply squat behind a tree.

And what’s a bit of litter any way? Hardly something to so hysterical over is it?

Dr. Anne Myers

July 4, 2005 @ 7:42 am | Comment

Mark Anthony Jones

Yes, your point about “Heroin users discarding their syringes in significant numbers on the sands of local beaches>” is, of course, valid.

I was just rambling about herion use as it’s something I know about from talking to the regular working girls in my local pub.

The disgrded shringes may have something to do with the HIV-related shringe-exchange schemes set up in most western countries to reduce infection from sharing needles. I think I once heard a whisper about a similar programme being operated here in China but I doubt it’s as widespread as the west.

Therefore, in China, good needles are kept and re-used I imagine.

By the way, it’s a myth that China treats drug addicts like animals (unless of course one is arrested for a crime in which case one is left to go through agonizing withdrawal) as all hospitals here will put users on a morphine-based rehabilitation programme, albeit at a cost, together with regular blood checks and a monitored and slow reducing of the dosage. Very humane.

July 4, 2005 @ 7:59 am | Comment

That above comment does sound like the real doctor Anne to me. Richard?

July 4, 2005 @ 8:34 am | Comment

Wow. Evolved culture. Observing it from a vantage point of this moment. Folks from America the Beautiful, New Zealand, London and travelers who haved biked from Greece to the Mainland. All taking a stand on shit. Hmmm.

Very nice to meet you all. Iโ€™m invigorated knowing how closely our DNA links us all and profoundly inspired by our interest in each other.

Is China beautiful? It is to me, in the same way James Taylor sung about Mexico before going. It is beautiful to me as an ancient civilization. We were crapping behind trees here too not that long ago. Actually when we were crapping smelly doo without a notion of what could fix our pains and aching bellies, the Chinese had studied medicine for centuries.

After India exported the basis of ancient Yoga to China, Lao and others vastly refined Buddhism. Anyone who has experience the Chi of Tai Chi Chuan is inexplicably grateful to the lineage of masters who discovered or invented the benefits of the movements.

If the imperialists behind the strategy of opium addiction hadnโ€™t weakened the spirit of an entire culture, or if the corruption which speeds along at an accelerating pace, following inevitably behind greed which fuels it hadnโ€™t enslaved the largest emerging populace–would we have the luxury of standing on this side or the other of shit?

All of you are painting beautiful pictures and those few of us who are blessed to encounter you benefit by your passion and your travels.

Cheers.

Winston
A new observer

July 4, 2005 @ 11:19 am | Comment

“- the big guys at the CCP are trying to do the best they can”

Really? the leaders on the top, like those officials at the lower levels, just pay lip services to the environmental problem. They can say anything; but are they really doing much? If they put it in the same effect and passion as they deal with FaLungGon (?), the envirnmental siuation in China would probably be very different.

Renxu

July 4, 2005 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Again, last year when I took a little trip through Xi ‘An, I noticed many billboards, signs, etc. urging “construct a Green China” “Our trees and grass need to breath, take care of your trash,” etc. Okay, it’s a propaganda campaign, but so was “don’t be a litterbug” and that Native American (who wasn’t, actually) with the tear rolling down his cheek. It’s a start.

As for creating a genuine civic consciousness, maybe there’s an upside to nationalism – wouldn’t this be a more constructive direction for these sentiments to be channeled?

I don’t think this will do much to address the problems of the poor and disenfranchised, however.

July 4, 2005 @ 11:54 am | Comment

Renxu, I’m really not the one to pick on here. I basically agree with you, but everytime I rail against the CCP without a disclaimer I get slammed for China-bashing. So I’ll re-tool my proposal and say instead that the big guys at the CCP do provide standards for pollution, but don’t manage to get the standards enforced very well. conspiracy? I don’t think it is, completely. I think it’s partly a lot of little officials refusing to enforce the standards, partially because of corruption, partially because of a lack of incentives.

Renxu, please check out my website. I think you’ll dislike me less. I’ve got some translations of Daodejing, and Zhongguonongmindiaocha, as well as pieces on environmentalism, poverty and charity.

July 4, 2005 @ 1:03 pm | Comment

Laowai,

a pleasure to tour Hopes and Dreams and Your Designs for China. You and I and many thousands of others hope for the abolishment of poverty and hunger of not just China and Africa but of where ever and whenever it exists.

I saw your comment about a translation of the Tao te Ching but didn’t locate the verse. We must share an appreciation of and for the Tao?

Doesn’t a mysterious connection between the tendency to study and/or practice Taoism (insert any variation of Buddhism, or Tom Cleary’s translations of the big three, or Yoga, or Mystical Christianity for that matter) exist which motivates us to be involved with the Save the World theme.

One of the Chinese visitors to the Hopes and Dreams thread wished for her people to move beyond ethnocentrism. I don’t know if Ken Wilber was in the background there but with or without Spiral Dynamics, the vision to embrace one planet as one whole entity with all the parts aware of their connection to each other so we work and behave integrally is certainly the work of a world consciousness, which Taoism and most native cultures describe.

This Peking Duck clan seems like a modern meeting place for the 60s era Greenwich Village or the artists Paris collection of the 30s. Maybe even the transcendentalists of the 1800s?

Sorry to move away from the topic. I’m new as you can tell by my handle.

July 4, 2005 @ 2:29 pm | Comment

As long as I can see the honesty and truthfulness from the post, I don’t feel offended but appreciated. At least the author concerns chinese enviroments. I do consider this as a shame of all chinese. But I am not sure if this problem is a heritage of chinese culture or just a temp situation associated with poorness or both. One of reason probably is that chinese people often try their best avoiding conflicts by pointing out the dirty habits of others in public.
I still remember Chinese media widely discussed this issue years ago when I was in middle school, and many recommend the model of singapore. However nothing has happened ever since…..no social movement because people don’t have belief for good any more after 1989, no government interfering because there is no cost effective way around. If the author can recommend some possible reasons and solutions based on his different foreign prospecive than ours, this post can be more constructive.

July 4, 2005 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

Plus, I think it’s one thing to apply a Singapore model to a similarly small area – but to a country as vast as China? It’s apples to oranges.

July 4, 2005 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

Lisa, I know….. it seems that Taiwan is cleaner as well, i should have conducted a research on that too. In order to get rid of the possible correlation of poorness and culture, any body can recommend one or more clean but not rich country? Thanks.
BTW: I have to thank PEKINGDUCK again for an earlier post about the corruptions in developing country. There are 2 exceptions, Chile and Botzwana.
I learned a lot from these two special cases and I hope some one can point out the similar odd examples on this issue too.

July 4, 2005 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

Welcome, Winston, and thanks for the comments.

Lin,I don’t think the poor sanitation in China is necessarily tied to one’s income or financial standing. I was in a 5-star hotel where I saw an immaculaltey dressed businessman with a briefcase suddenly clear his throat and spit heartily onto the lobby floor in front of everyone. On my very first day at the job in Beijing, I saw a lovely young lady in a smart pants suit walking up to the building. She paused as she approached the doors, leaned over and blew her nose to the ground. The spitting seemed universal; the guys did it in the mens room all the time, and one older fellow used to spit in his wastebasked by his desk. Loudly. So I do see it as a cultural phenomenon, not economic.

As to public awareness campaigns, these have been famously unsuccessful to date. I don’t know why. I do know there has been more than one anti-spitting campaign, each landing with a plop. There was also a campaign when I was in China to teach men in Beijing that it’s not hip to walk around the city shirtless in the summer, or to roll their shirt up to the shoulders the way they do. That one, too, hardly had an effect. Hopefully as the economy continues to boom they’ll start making it mandatory for all citizens to attend at least one semester of charm school.

July 4, 2005 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

mandatory? sounds like singapore:)

July 4, 2005 @ 3:51 pm | Comment

Sorry, probably I messed up. The credit of that corruption story has go to simonworld. Sorry, Richard…….. and Simon.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:07 pm | Comment

Other Lisa, I was thinking a lot about that exremely memorable American Indian ad lately, and how it really made a difference in the USA. I even downloaded the ad to refresh my memory after all these years. Still powerful.

Last year I saw a billboard in Shanghai that was so good I took a photo. It had several sides, each with the same message, but different graphics.

First, there was an image of some ancient Chinese cultural treasure, like a bronze wine dish. Next to it would be a picture of modern disposable trash, like a styrofoam “he fan” box, or some used batteries. In Chinese the message was something like “They left us this (image: ancient bronze). What will we leave the next ones? (image: styrofoam box)”

I was hoping this was the start of a major advertising campaign, but I never saw another one. Too bad, I thought it was a very effective ad.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Silm:
Suburbs of Berlin around the turn of the century were shitholes, from what I know. Very poor or no sanitation.
What concerns the countryside, I can’t imagine that it was as nice and clean as it is today in many places. Spiting was quite popular in these days too.

Perhaps one should think about it in this way: In the past when you threw something away it would soon be rotten and then gone, so people just threw thing away without much thinking about it. Today most what you throw away will still be there when you are long dead and gone.
In the western countrys the population had a relative long time to get used to this new phenomenon( not to forget that the environment wasn’t as nice as it is today 40 years ago).
In China the development was extremly fast in the last 20 years but people need a long time to change their habbits.
Well, just some thoughts late in the evening.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:20 pm | Comment

doesn’t a lot of it come down to the public and the personal. that’s to say, if you feel you haven’t got a stake in something and that whatever you do to it isn’t going to matter because you have no control over it … then you’re less likely to care about its appearance than something you do have a stake in, something you can make a difference to.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

Lin, can you link us to that post? I like your point – it’s more instructive to compare the littering situation to other emerging developing nations (where it’s probably no different). I don’t have any experience in this respect, hope you and others can help fill in the blanks.

As for spitting, I think the reason we occasionally see outwardly polished individuals spitting, spraying mucus, etc says more about the rapidity of change here than middle class public hygiene practices. In China, a business man in an immaculate suit may have been a tricycle driver a few years ago. We’ve all heard these stories, right? Shanghai’s wealthiest real estate tycoon used to be a street noodle vendor.

What I’m trying to say is that the suit is more easily changed than the habits. The good news is that the lag time between the two need not be great, witness the markedly contrasting habits of urban young people.

That’s my primary China survival mantra: whatever you don’t like in The Middle Kingdom, at least it’s probably changing quickly.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

Shulan, I think we’re cross-posting similar thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m signing off now, see y’all later.

July 4, 2005 @ 4:52 pm | Comment

This is a really hard question, for me at least. I think there’s more than one factor, like education and what the Cultural Revolution did to the mindset of many. But more than anything I blame the scourge we’ve discussed here many times and that we nearly all agree exists, namely the attitude of many Chinese of not giving a damn if the effects of your actions hurt others who are not in your immediate family. I keep going back to the most astounding example described in Becker’s The Chinese. Two business owners try to dump a barrel of highly toxic waste into their town’s water supply. If they hadn’t been intercepted, the action would have wreaked havoc for literally generations. And they simply didn’t care because it was a convenient thing to do at that moment and would save them money in the short term.

Everyday littering is not on that level (duh) but the mentality is quite similar, i.e., an attitude of utter carelessness, although your action will diminish the quality of life of others,cause needless work and damage the environment. I’m still not convinced it’s just the poor and uneducated who do this, having seen it on college campuses. It’s a way of looking at the world. Some look with a sense of responsibility, with the attiitude that it’s their world and everyone’s world and we all bear responsibility for it. Others look at it as a convenience for their whims, and if they throw the litter behind them where they won’t see it, so what?

I saw the dirt-poor in El Salvador, Thailand. Indonesia, Mexico and elsewhere. While I saw litter in those places, I also saw a considerably greater sense of community and responsibility. Even in the poorest areas.

This me-first attitude may also be in part a product of the CR, the ravages of which can’t be overstated. I don’t think it’s because the Chinese are inherently more dirty or more savage than others. And I do know the people are getting better about sanitation. I’ve heard stories about the Beijing airport in the early 1990s, where the floors were so doused in spit you could slide across them. But the improvement is still slow and in some places nonexistent. America’s litter problem used to be enormous, and its steady and dramatic decline is a testament to the power of really good public service announcement campaigns like the famous American Indian.

July 4, 2005 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

dear dr. anne,
thanks for your ignorant comment:
“What in God’s name are you rambling on about young man? What flows like sewage from your tongue smells like nothing other than a foul and paranoid rant…It seems as though you are finding your life here in China to be a daily struggle. If I, a 64 year old woman who hails from the plush leafy suburbs of north-west London can hack it out here in China, then why can’t you?”

I don’t think I ever said I couldn’t hack it out in China, did I? I don’t think I ever said life was a daily struggle. I just said the media here was ridiculously stupid and trapped in a pattern of “xingshizhuyi,” everything that is covered in the media, like environment, corruption, income gap, etc. is only covered on the surface and in the end nothing is done about it.

so, i’m sorry, but don’t go changing what i said, “old lady.” if you want to reply to me, at least provide some substance, right? I would think a 64-year old would be capable of that.

July 4, 2005 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

Kevin

I’m with you here as, although Gordon advises that Anne is all tongue-in-cheek, I personally don’t much like that little tirade of hers above as I think the language used, as you quote, is unacceptable.

Just to add to Slim’s point about the clothes and riches in China changing faster than the habits, I can certainly see an general improvement (spitting, spraying mucus, littering) between now and the early 90’s.

I’d be interested if Lisa could compare 1979 with her recent China visits as I suspect that the improvement might be even more pronouced.

July 4, 2005 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

I’ve seen various degrees of litter and garbage in different cities. The worst that I saw (for a major city, of course) was Harbin. Walking around the streets there, whenever the wind blew, a couple of chunks of trash would fly up and hit me. And spitting there was much more hardcore than I have ever seen, real big lugies (spelling?), plus the fact that spit would freeze in the winter, providing me with a chance to sort of “snot-skate” to class.

July 4, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

I work on maoming road here in shanghai, and certainly would not characterize it as clean. however, i think that the concentration of people here has a lot to do with this. if harbin had this many people in such a small space, i can’t imagine what it would be like.
unfortunately, instead of harbin’s freezing winters, i’m now going through a burning shanghai summer, and let me tell you, trash stinks real bad in the summer. i almost barfed walking behind isetan the other day on the way to lunch, because i’ve taken plenty of dumps in my life that smelled better than that street.

July 4, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

Hmmm, well, I’d say the spitting has actually lessened, at least in Beijing. I imagine SARS had a lot to do with that.

As I mentioned upthread, I was really impressed by some of the “public” spaces in Xi ‘An – these were not parks where you got charged admission, the one I’m thinking of is a big plaza with lots of water fountains and sculptures. People were just hanging out and enjoying the day. The place was very clean (and there were signs in both English and Chinese urging you to dispose of your trash correctly and protect the greenery). If I were a Xi ‘An person, I think I’d have some civic pride, because in addition to all of the historical treasures there, here is this public space that’s meant for everyone to enjoy. It’s so different than the typical park or garden, which is all about enclosing and keeping people out.

But I keep coming back to BLIND SHAFT, which I think illustrates this “me and my family first, screw everyone else” syndrome as well as anything I ‘ve seen or read. My feeling is that things are changing so fast it’s hard for most people to get a grip at times. I don’t know what it will take for the mass of folks in China to have that sense of ownership and community pride – probably a little more control over their own civic institutions, for one. And some common social programs might help. Things that give people a sense that there’s a common good which transcends family bonds.

I’m tired, it’s a little late, and I wish I could come up with something more eloquent and incisive, but alas, it’s not to be…

July 4, 2005 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

there seems to be a world of difference between a discussion of available facilities and a discussion of cleanliness….

in the countryside there’s an outhouse with a hole in the floor. that’s life. in some villiages I’ve been in these are spotless. some not so much. in the former, when I empty the end of a cigarette on the ground and pocket the butt if there’s no handy garbage can I get a big smile (and sometimes an offer for tea) from anyone who notices. in the latter they look at me like I’m from another planet.

in the city, where available public bathrooms are not only usually plentiful and equipped with modern facilities but charge you 5 mao to a kuai for use…

I’m gonna chime in with other lisa. I read an article recently on public spaces and an attitude of ‘use the hell out of it till it’s gone’, if anyone remembers where that was….

there often seems to be little empathy. as in ‘well I don’t want to stand in someone else’s urine so I’ll try not to pee on the floor’. rather it’s ‘well, I have to stand in other people’s piss so now you can stand in mine.’

July 5, 2005 @ 9:06 am | Comment

Kevin … don’t get upset. The good doctor never rises much above the level of a troll. Don’t take it personally. It’s all part of her “superiority complex” which requires that she belittle everyone else. ๐Ÿ˜‰

July 5, 2005 @ 9:17 am | Comment

I’ll take one last stab and then vanish as I’m just a visitor to your dialogue and a stranger to your land.

Also because I haven’t read enough threads (though some very interesting ones and enough to know that you all seem like a zillion times smarter than me), I wouldn’t know what are popular books in the crowd and which of today’s major thinkers hold audience here. So if this is old hat–Steve Martin. Arrow. Neck. Excuse Meeee.

Ken Wilber (see Integral Naked–I think org) talks a lot about all quadrants, all levels. What he’s getting at is sort of the dissection of a person and identifying all the parts and getting the big picture of the whole being.

So beyond (hang with me a second, it is relevant to the thread) the old model and psychological analysis of four quadrants–you know like driver/driver or follower/intellectual, there is a new dimension which is also up and down. Also the model is never ending and keeps on going (as in Spiral Dynamics) with evolution. This means a person is also expanding in each field (or has potential to).

How I think this is relevant to the thread (more specifically literring or worse–threatening safety by dumping chemicals, etc), is how, as we have evolved we’ve moved beyond egocentric behavior. Some have stopped at ethnocentric. Some have stopped at Eurocentric. There is such a thing as cosmocentric, but if for now more could find balance at worldcentric, we’d learn that not only will proper behavior benefit the other person or culture which we impact, but we ourselves will benefit because we’re connected to the whole thing.

The behavior you’re describing about locals seems to add up to me, given the conditions and circumstances which have lead up to it. Your talking about it is probably some small part of an overall movement away from that type of behavior there in China.

It seems to me (though I can’t claim any great mastery of the discipline), that observing someone else’s behavior hurts me the most when I hold on to the observation or the emotion of the reaction. Naturally, I want to do my best to never behave in that way, but the litter only harms me by my own thoughts.

If we smile and pick up the litter, make eye contact with peace in our hearts, will the person change? Maybe. Maybe not. But it probably won’t cause any problem to act that way. Or pick it up and throw it away and move on. Or walk past it. Probably doesn’t matter much.

I feel your frustration at the situation and also sense that many of you have great work to do. Richard, your blog is artistic besides a gift for us as a tool to talk. It is a very pleasant experience to visit. I’ll bet the group as a whole appreciates it in the same way.

If you haven’t seen Integral Naked or read Wilber–it/he is a real gas.

Thanks again all–bon voyage.

July 5, 2005 @ 11:47 am | Comment

Bye New – come back soon!

July 5, 2005 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

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