By Alex Rosaria
I often wonder why it’s so difficult to persuade people to care about our island and planet upon which we completely depend. Why aren’t we making progress with Kòrsou Limpi i Bunita (a Clean and Lovely Curaçao) in all these years? The answer may be simpler than we think.
Recently I read a true Second World War story that disclosed how the U.S. carefully compiled a list of Japanese cities it wanted to bomb with the atom bomb. Kyoto was on that list. To the indignation of military advisers, Kyoto was however removed by the U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Instead, Nagasaki was added. Why did he remove Kyoto? Because Stimson and his wife had spent their honeymoon in Kyoto. It was difficult to destroy the city that represented love and beauty to him.
Be that as it may, the opposite is equally true. We easily destroy what we don’t feel connected to, what we don’t know, and don’t love. Nowhere is this more apparent than how we’re littering our environment. It seems that with or without law and fines (remember when relevant legislation was put on the negative list in 2010), littering has not been curbed. There are more cleaning actions now, and more ugly trash cans crammed in our capital city, but these don’t seem to have made a dent.
According to the Environmental Performance Index, Denmark is the world’s cleanest country. Wait, you’ll say, it’s because of their stiff fines. An offender is fined about US $100 in Denmark, not a whopping amount. Interestingly, only 36 offenders have been penalized for littering in an 8-year period. And, anyone who has walked around Singapore and Korea, the cleanest Asian countries, must have noticed the lack of public trash cans. Not surprisingly, people in the cleanest countries say they feel closely connected to nature and take their own responsibility for a clean environment.
If people don’t experience nature or don’t understand the essence of nature, it’s unlikely they’ll care. And this is what’s missing. A campaign to stimulate humans to reconnect with nature and understand its importance. This may trigger a mentality change that puts an end to the poisoning of our life support system. The fact is that we lost touch with nature and have become an indoor generation. When was the last time we went for a walk in one of our parks, did some bird watching, or did nature photography? Without a human reconnection to nature, its destructing is certain.
~ Alex David Rosaria (53) is a freelance consultant active in Asia and the Pacific. He is a former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and UN Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America. He is from Curaçao and has an MBA from University of Iowa (USA). ~