DEVELOPING IN DEVELOPMENTS

The term ‘Third World Countries’ appears to have been replaced by the term, ‘Developing Countries’.

Developing Countries.

What does that even mean?

Who is anyone in the Western World to determine what nation should be classified as a ‘Developing Country’?

Because their highways and roads are only fit for SUVs and trucks yet they’ve perfected driving skills that would impress Kent Block and The Stig?

Because not everyone has the ability to finish high school? Indeed, primary school (for whatever reason) yet most laborers and tradesmen are more skilled in building, plugging and installing than anyone whose gone to study their trade for four years plus the few years of slavery – I mean, apprenticeship – that they’ve endured? That they can improvise better than anyone else in the Western World no matter what the job at hand is?

Because marriage and children are prioritized above all else? Even completing school?

So what?

They’re still the happiest bunch of people you’ll ever meet.

How developed is the Western World, when everything from climbing ladders to climbing corporate ladders needs a license and rules and regulations policed by feds and law folk who break the law themselves?

When kids are policed to not stay out on the streets for fear of bacteria to their love for video games.

I’m not trying to sound self-righteous (I know how self-righteous that sounds) but in the consumerism lifestyle we’ve been brainwashed to believe is the ultimate way of life, how can we declare that countries that don’t follow Western World norms are ‘developing’ and therefore presuming they are under developed?

We are so fixated in having the latest gadgets, the newest smartphones (even though your last upgrade was probably three months ago) and everyone is heads down in said smartphones and plugged out of the world surrounding them via headphones (supplied by said smart phones) that human interaction will soon be a thing of the past.

We’re brought up in such a competitive manner from the day we’re born – even between siblings – and told that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and to survive, you’re better to do your best to fuck each other over to get ahead in life.

No one even says ‘hello’ on the streets of the Western World. Try it. Walk in your city or town and count how many responses you’ll get from complete strangers (except if you go to a small rural town). Don’t be surprised if you get looks of ‘What are you crazy?’ and a possible police cruiser following you from behind.

In ‘Developing Countries’? People go out of their way to greet you with a smile. From lines like, “Give me five.”

“Five what?”

“Five fingers, cause that will make ten when you shake my hand.”

Where in the Western World would you ever hear a stranger say that without thinking, That the guy’s gotta be crazy. He’s not. He’ll even share a smoke with you.

These greetings are called at from across the street, from atop a hill, from the middle of a lake. Your arm will tire from waving so much. Your cheeks will be stretched from smiling all day. You’ll be shaking so many hands that, depending on the grip, it might be crushed by the end of the day.

Siblings are taught to share everything, and not just between them but between all the kids in the village.

Huts are small because people only use them to sleep in. They are always outdoors working, playing or even just sitting with their neighbours and friends by the side of the road, waving at cars and trucks.

George Carlin once said that, “Houses are buildings to put your stuff in. The more stuff you have, the bigger the house you need.” (I may be paraphrasing).

And why do we even need stuff?

Remember the outdoors? That place that’s just outside of your door? It’s full of stuff, the good stuff – nature and other people (I know I’m contradicting a little here by investing ‘indoor’ time to write this, but if it counts, I’m outside on the balcony of Big Blue Backpackers, overlooking Lake Malawi in Nkhata Bay getting eaten alive by mosquitoes).

Who are we to judge that they’ve not yet developed to an extent that they’re happy with? Just cause they’re not as far-advanced in technology and corporate takeovers of every little aspect in life that we’re accustomed with?

No.

The ‘Developing Countries’ have it down pat. Sure, you get those that see the westerner as a walking bank machine but like everywhere, you get the good with the bad.

It’s just that there’s so much more good than bad in the places I’ve visited.

Where in the Western World would a taxi driver take you for free? And I’m not talking 2-3 K’s. I hitched with four taxis for free from Chipata, Zambia (20 K’s west of Malawi’s border) to Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, a total distance of 200 K’s.

And every time I’d ask, “Are you sure it’s OK?” the response was always the same, a huge smile, a pat on the back followed with, “I’m just happy to help. Welcome to my country.”

Developing countries? I think they’re already developed.

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Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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