September 01, 2015

Paper Trail

So they occupied the Ministry of Environment because people have had it with the garbage in this country. I am all for taking a stand and be active engaged in the making of a change. And yes, we do need a change. But where do you start with change?

Consider this, for instance.
I like hiking in the mountains. I like the views, the air, the nature, everything.
Now upon my return to Lebanon, I found, on one of my favorite trails, three scout group encampments. I absolutely applaud the entire idea of young people camping together; the number of skills learned while camping are immeasurable. It teaches them cooperation, collaboration, it helps them with their problem solving and critical thinking skills, it enhances their appreciation of the luxuries they take for granted in daily life, it helps building compassion for the less fortunate among us (currently living in tents), it shows them a different side and part of their country, one they may have not yet encountered, and it teaches appreciation for nature.
These are just some of the larger objectives. If you want to go into details, building a good (camp) fire is a skill and knowing where to position yourself during a camp fire is another; only the suckers get engulfed in smoke.
And all this, while having fun. 

This one's a little careless with the paper.


The three groups, over 200 people,  come from different organizations. One was an Armenian boy scout camp, there was one from the Guides of Lebanon (whatever that may be), which was a mixed camp, and a third, a girl scout camp. The division is not important; I assume that during the evening and the night the lines that are drawn between the camp sort of disappear in the darkness. Or so it should.
All good and well.
Now these youngsters are the future of Lebanon. Right? They are out in nature and they should appreciate their environment, right?
This guy has the runs
The amount of garbage currently surrounding the three camps is absolutely mind boggling. I understand that young people do not like to clean up after themselves, after all, I have two fine examples of that at home.

But these are scouts! If I Google through a few of their web sites, I can see quotes like ‘
The Scouting Division's main objective is to help scouts develop character, citizenship …’ (source) , ‘
helping them to develop their capacities as responsible citizens’ (source) and ‘provides it members with opportunities to develop strong values’ (source), to name just a few.

Values that should include picking up your own trash. Obviously not.

This one is a 'crumpler'
My husband had a shit-fit over this, and he went on a rampage through the camps, lecturing the young but not-too-impressed humans about their job as role models. After all; they’re scouts. Shouldn’t they respect nature? So – in their favor – they have done some cleaning up. Plastic plates and bottles were being gathered now.
But somehow, the leadership has failed to organize proper bathroom facilities. Or maybe it is there, but they have failed to instruct their members on the proper use of them. Or maybe they are so dirty most scouts choose not to use them or maybe they are too far away to walk to them. Whatever the reason, when you walk the trail, there is shit absolutely everywhere.
Group session maybe? Or a repeated offender?
Now that’s not a problem. After all, it’s organic, will add to the minerals of the soils and will wash away after one rain shower.
But for some reason, these kids wipe instead of using water, indicating a somewhat affluent background.
My experience through my work as a journalist is that in very poor households, you will find a water pitcher in the bathroom with a shower head of some sorts next to the toilet.  The more money they have, the greater the chance they will have either Kleenex, or for the better off, toilet paper on rolls. The richer  the household, the thicker the paper, with colored paper in the higher echelons, and with a design and a fragrance at the top of the line.
You may argue that I do not know what I am talking about, but through my work in the field, I have had to use other people’s bathroom a lot, and I think that if you do a research on this, you will find I will not be too far off. 
But not only that;  these kids use copious amounts of toilet paper. And I mean, COPIOUS. Maybe the food resulted in some scouts having a serious case of the runs. Whatever the reason, when you walk along the trail, which circles their camp, you walk through piles and piles of used toilet paper.

These scouts camp – literally – in their own shit, and do not seem to be bothered significantly by this.
Now I was contemplating this problem last Sunday, while wading through clusters of white toilet paper (and some Kleenex, and an occasional wet wipe). If it doesn’t bother you that you live in your own shit, why should it bother you that you’d have to live in other people’s shit?  And if you have no qualms – as a scout – about leaving your trash behind in a forest that was pretty clean when you found it, then why on Earth are you suddenly so bothered about the garbage pile-up in your city.
We all want a change, I agree with that. And I agree that this occupation and the demonstrations downtown are not just about the literal garbage, but more importantly the garbage in leadership position that have failed – even though the civil war had ended over 25 years ago, en the last major Israeli bombardments ended 9 years ago – to provide us with 24 hours electricity and drinking water, and proper education , to name just the very basics. And when you hear that an Italian mining company pulled out of a deal because certain ‘politicians who shall not be named’ demanded a 10% cut for their own pockets, it is shameful.
It's almost art
 But how about you start with yourself? If you start cleaning up after yourself when outdoors, recycle, and bring your own shopping bags to the supermarket instead of relying on their 6 billion plastic bags, that will help significantly.
And if you’re going to occupy, the Ministry of Energy and Water also needs to be occupied (here’s the address: Mar Mikhael Street) , The Ministry of Education (Near Unesco,  if I am correct), there’s the Ministry of Labor, for not providing enough jobs for our young people (Baabda), the Ministry of Justice for not being able to solve one single political assassination, The Ministry for Public Work and Transport for their crummy roads and  the sewers and tunnels that flood when it rains and on and on I could go.
So go out and occupy it all.
While I will be walking the coming weeks trough a shitty paper trail. And let's see if anyone can come up with a good - pun intended - comment. (And 'you're full of shit' is not an option)


Anonymous said...

Totally disgusting! In the defence forces in Australia, we learnt the 3 "BBBs" when it came to disposing of rubbish. Bash, burn and bury. As for faeces, there was a wooden cabin cubicle with a container to collect the waste.

RevoNish said...

Good for you and your husband for expecting more of Lebanon's youth. I believe that youth can live up to high expectations, as long as we are consistent about it. However, it was not the scouts that needed your husband's rant -- it was their "leaders". They are the ones who sorely need retraining in responsibility, accountability, and the aims and ideals of scouting. As the saying goes in a few Middle Eastern languages, "The fish stinks from its head".