“not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one.”
Living in Bali for the last 5 months has made be completely aware of the impact the state of oblivion has on the world.
It’s not just the crazy driving style on the busy roads of this Indonesian island that has me scratching my head with amazement — and holding on for dear life in the car my husband drives us around in. The locals ensure my heart stays firmly in my throat as they use their motorbikes as proverbial sideshow rides pulling into oncoming traffic without looking, ducking in and out of lanes, sideswiping trucks and tourist buses, completely f*cking oblivious how close they (and the children they carry on these rides) come to death each and every stupid decision they make.
However, as I mentioned above, it is not just the insanity of driving without care that has made me so aware of the state of oblivion most of our world lives in…
You see in Bali, there is one other thing that you just can’t hide from. And there is no ignoring it when it sits in such stark contrast to the country you come from — which as a matter of fact, just has the ability to hide it really well.
But despite not being able to hide from it, the majority of people in Bali live in complete oblivion to the effect their behaviour has in this case….
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about rubbish.
The freaking huge piles of goddamned plastic bottles, wrappers, Styrofoam containers, glass jars, straws, bottle tops, solo flip-flops and as a matter of fact any and every type of rubbish item you can imagine — all of it, on the beach, in the water, by the road side, or in the 4–6 storey high piles you can see when you pass the tip, which just so happens to be right on the water’s edge of the harbour.
However, with so much plastic filth staring you in the face each and every moment of the day — it doesn’t stop the car in front of you from throwing their water cup out of the window, or the family hiding their bags full of garbage under the tree in the vacant lot next door (the collection so ridiculously big it is not hidden by any stretch of the imagination), the school kid tossing their chip packet over their shoulder as they ride along on their bike, or the local piling their day’s waste into the drain near the driveway and setting it on fire.
Oblivious to their own behaviour, this is the extreme of how bad it can get — and how bad it is in a world where we treat the earth as our trash can.
It might be really really obvious in Bali, but not so much at home in Australia. Yes, the use of recycling, trash cans and weekly pickups helps a lot in ridding our clean western world of the rubbish we accumulate, but it is not a solution to the problem. In fact, it facilitates our state of oblivion because it just hides the rubbish really really well — yes, ‘land fill’ is literally ‘filling the land’ with our plastic.
When are we going to step out of our state of oblivion and really take responsibility for the damage we are causing? It can be easy to place the blame on the manufacturers and complain that there is just no other way to buy things. We could stop purchasing altogether, but hell, that’ll just put a lot of people out of work.
Instead we need to focus on what is within our control to be a part of the solution. And this will involve recognising that in fact we have a fundamental problem, and can no longer bury it and our heads in the sand.
Now, I’m in no way the right person to offer a solution, but in promoting awareness, we can promote one of the most powerful things in the world — choice.
What choice are our companies making to change? What alternative choices are their out there? How can we choose our dollars be spent to support businesses who are doing things a smarter way? What can we ask of our local communities, our local governments, the people who hold the purse strings?
Is continuing to ignore the problem really the choice we can afford to make?