Life is full of contradictions and hard choices. Nothing has a simple answer. Ah, the wise lessons of my 20.5 years.
This past weekend, I went to the capital city Quito to bask in the glory of their big annual fiesta. I saw a ballet, parades, bands on top of buses, dancing in the street...and a bull fight. All deep rooted traditions of the Quito Festival.
Truthfully, I was quite under informed about the true nature of a bull fight. Now that I've seen it, I can say with absolute certainty that this is animal cruelty and should be banned. Contrary to my naive sense of reality, bull fights are not just a man in a funny outfit waving a cape in front of a bull. There is blood, there is suffering, and there is death. It is absolutely horrible, from a moral standpoint. My good, righteous, animal-loving soul does not approve.
But who am I to say that? Dare I break out the word barbaric? Can I make that judgement? Can I jump off my high American horse and start throwing out moral lessons? What is cultural and what can be considered a universal wrong? At what point can "rightness" supersede culture?
Here's another one: water. Don't drink the water in Central and South America. There is a very good possibility you will die from intestinal disease. Well, that's the company line, anyway. I don't drink the water, but I do wash my food in it, my hands--both of which I put to my mouth before letting them dry. I brush my teeth and shower in this demon water. My intestines seem to be in working order, at least for now. Either way, though, because of this little water issue, ridiculous amounts of bottled water is consumed. Ridiculous amounts of plastic is thrown away everyday from one time use water bottles. Can we judge the horrendous waste of this cultural norm? It occurs by neccesity, yet there is still no effort to use reusable bottles, or use less, or recycle. Who has the right to make a stink?
My dad just sent me this article as well:
Morning Edition, December 8, 2008 · Guatemalans on Sunday celebrated a beloved tradition: "Burning of the Devil." Across the country, people lit bonfires and burned figures of Satan as a way to symbolically cleanse their houses. But the minister of the environment, for the first time, had asked Guatemalans not to burn the devils because it pollutes the air.
If it's a Guatemalan that's trying to change Guatemalan cultural norms, is that OK? Does that change the conversation? Should environmental degradation supersede cultural maintenence? What's more important? Do traditions even matter when the state of the planet is at stake?
Simply some random questions of my rambling mind.