A world united in the scramble to 'keep up'

Category: Nature & Science Topics: Nature And Environment Views: 1314

The overwhelming evidence is that human nature and human behavior cuts across all boundaries and cultures.

I remember when I saw the film "Psycho" many years ago, I was so affected by one of the scenes that it influenced my behavior. Years later when "Psycho 2" was produced many writers focused on the previous movie and the very scene that had affected my behavior. I was pleasantly surprised when I read that millions of people across the globe who saw the original movie had reacted in the same fashion as I had.

Today, with global television and an almost universal media culture, we notice more similarities in people's attitudes and reactions despite different cultures.

One instrument that has united people the world over is the mobile telephone. Mobile phones are being used by young men around the world as status symbols to attract women. Psychologists say they found males in London so desperate to make the right impression that they talked to their phones over the thumping music of discos, pretending to make calls in places where it would be impossible to get a signal, chatting earnestly into cheap plastic imitations!! Again, according to psychologists, the mobile phones give the impression not only that the men have money but also that they have a high status job which necessitates their being called at odd hours of the day.

In Venezuela one in three men making calls on mobiles were in fact using plastic imitations. In South Africa, a man was caught out in front of his peer group when his phone rang in the middle of a "conversation".

And right here in Jeddah, I sat in a car and as my hands went towards the phone, my colleague remarked apologetically: "It is not a real phone. It's just a plastic model." I asked: "Why did you put it here?" He replied red-faced: "My wife forced me to do so. We must keep up with everybody else." Oh Yes, I thought, like everybody else in Britain, Venezuela, South Africa and around the globe. Surely this is a united world!

Safeguarding the environment calls for close cooperation between the government and the industrial sector. Recently, Prince Naif stressed that the Kingdom is strongly committed to economic growth as well as the simultaneous preservation of the environment. His announcement was well received by the media, the public and all those concerned by the adverse effects of environmental pollution. In fact, Prince Naif is in the forefront of the Kingdom's efforts to safeguard the environment and to improve it by greening the desert and preserving our wild life.

The very rapid growth of our economy has had its adverse effect on the environment and has resulted in calls for extra efforts by officials, industrialists and the public to keep pollution in check. The officials will have to implement strict laws and keep themselves informed of the environment-friendly technology that is already available in the West.

Also, the industrialists must act on their own without waiting for the government to provide environmental leadership every time. At the same time officials must beware of setting environment protection standards so high that they become damaging for industry. We need both - industry and environmental protection.

It is gratifying to note that there is already a growing awareness among us that the world must learn to live with pesticides and hydrocarbons and that their adverse effects can be controlled. 

The latest thinking on environmental protection calls for a "balanced approach" which recognizes that man-made materials like plastic, nylon and asphalt cannot be eliminated and that they will continue to be used. There is simply not enough wood, cotton and slate to take the place of these synthetic materials. The right way to protect the environment is to improve the manufacturing processes and to develop effective recycling and disposal systems. Let us join together for controlling the adverse effects of all types of pollution.

The world is changing fast. Even conservative societies like ours are now, thanks to travel and speedy communication, being affected. We see young men in fast cars in Tahlia street and on the Corniche driving like daredevils. Any comment to them is met by icy stares or even rude words. They do not alter their actions.

The main culprit behind this form of behavior is said to be the "cultural invasion" brought here by TV. It seems that poor TV is responsible for all the ills of the world. Earlier, the blame for violence in the USA was said to be the fault of violence in movies and on TV.

The fact is, however, that long before movies and TV, Americans killed millions of Indians, enslaved millions of blacks, fought a bloody civil war killing 800,000 people and attained the highest murder rate in history.

Violent movies like "Die Hard", "Terminator", "Lethal Weapon", "In Cold Blood" etc. do well in places like Canada, Europe and the Far East. Yet these countries do not have anywhere near the levels of violence of the United States. This is because they have strong social controls.

In 1989, in all of Japan with a population of 150 million, there were 734 murders while in New York with a population of 8 million there were 2,200 murders. The question arises then: How does violence creep into society?

I believe very strongly that the failure to suppress and regulate natural impulses brings in violence. Absence of dialogue - be it in the family or the community - may create restlessness and abnormal behavior. And, I believe, this is what is happening in our young.

One notices the slow erosion of respect for elders. You can see it in the "devil-may-care attitude" of our young men as they hound females in the shopping malls or try to attract the attention of female passengers at traffic lights. This form of behavior is alien to our society and its norms. But the question arises which society? Today's society is not that of yesterday with its cohesive family units.

Today there are more temptations and diversions than ever before and parents are succumbing to them at the expense of their children's proper upbringing. The negative results are then blamed on movies and television. They make easy targets. But are they really to blame? What makes parents abdicate their traditional responsibilities?

  Category: Nature & Science
  Topics: Nature And Environment
Views: 1314

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