That promotes the idea that a high material standard of living and rampant consumerism is the ultimate goal of any society. And I now understand that the mere presence of consumer-based corporations within any country, in no way reduces poverty nor addresses any real social needs. Indeed it creates a myriad of other problems, most notably 'out of control' pollution from plastic packaging (i.e garbage).
Cholitas sell anything they can on the streets of La Paz. Bolivia is the poorest (and highest) country in the western Hemisphere. Copyright Doug Pyper
Mega-corporations like Coca Cola and Nestle are strangling our planet with packaged consumer goods and are now making these products available to the poorest of the poor in
Indigenous roadside vendor selling plastic east of La Paz, Bolivia. Copyright Doug Pyper.
In developed countries we've become experts at hiding this petrochemical disaster in our land fills and to some extent with recycling programs. However, these so-called solutions are all but non-existent in
It was disheartening to travel throughout
The garbage landscape across rural Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Copyright Doug Pyper.
Fortunately it seems there is a growing awareness of the issue. It was heartwarming and inspirational to witness an “Environment Day” in the tiny
Child at environmental awareness day in Samipata, Bolivia. Copyright Doug Pyper.
Poster at children's environment event in Samaipata, Bolivia. Copyright Doug Pyper.
Children with their artwork at environmental awareness day in Samaipata, Bolivia. Copyright Doug Pyper.
Respected Nigerian author Ben Okri wrote: “Childhood is the father and mother of humanity. If you want to understand a nation study the way it treats its children, the way it educates them, the way it moulds them”.
And with regard to life in so-called developed nations Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano penned “Almost everywhere growing up has come to mark the start of a deadly race to consume at all costs. It often begins nearer to infancy than it should and for the most part it means submitting to the dismal regulation of joyless work”
Perhaps we should all rethink our often arrogant life view. The people in the countries I visited with few exceptions were full of joy despite their hardships….something I see much less of in my own country Canada. It was a personal wakening for me.
And perhaps globally we can all learn a lesson from Boliva's model and follow their ideologies for continued existence here in the fragile hands of mother earth.