John 3:8

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The non-necessities of American culture

So, since I've been living outside of the US for 9 months now, I have realized there are quite a few things we are so used to using in America that we don't think about the possibility of not having them. Really, though, they are non-essentials.. Here's a list of a few things that I've realized we don't "need" in the way we have come to be dependant on them :
Hot water (for washing dishes, for showering..)
An overhead shower.

what we use here for showering--buckets
Air conditioning.
Flushing toilets.
Toilet paper. Mmhmm. old school style. 
Some people in towns near me don't even have bathrooms, running water, or electricity. Now, i realize that this is usually not sanitary, and can cause lots of illnesses, due to using the same river for a bathroom and a shower, but at the same time, people live that way...

during a brown-out.. sitting by candle-light

Some other things people go without here, and make it just fine:
Self-filling and -running clothes washing machine
A washing machine in general
A house free of ants, or cockroaches for that matter
An electric stove

A gas stove.. (it's called coal).

the kitchen at the girls' dorm
matches..? sometimes. If you're out, why not just rub two sticks together...

Now, this is not just a post to tell you how much people 'rough it' here, or how different life is. Let this never become something that just fascinates us, lest we forget the people behind the different tasks that these things imply. Just because we have these things in our homes in America doesn't make us an better, or better off for that matter, than the people living here without them. In fact, recently, I was thinking about how much more complicated and frustrating our lives can be because of owning machines and devices designed to "make our life easier." I mean, when you own a dishwasher, a washing machine and dryer, toilets, showers, stoves, etc. you also have to spend time on their upkeep. Machines break. Then we have to fix them, and that costs money. So yes, our modern "conveniences" can be helpful, but they can also be a big pain. 

People here who don't have those things may spend more time on tasks we have come to dislike. That's not to say, though, that their lives are not enjoyable. I'm sure when students do laundry in the dorms, even if it's not fun for them, they spend a lot of time near each other and probably talk while they're doing their chore. How many people do you talk to while you're doing your laundry? What about washing dishes? Every night, I wash dishes with my housemate, and we talk or sing along with the radio together. It's something simple, but this has built a tighter friendship between the two of us. For probably a month or two, we cooked at home over coals. It took more time, yes, but it made me so much more appreciative of having something to eat, and some way to cook it.
girls doing their laundry together at the dorm
What other things can you think of that we use in America a lot but really could probbaly go without, or at least spend less time on? How about the very thing we're both using right now--computers? How dependant are we on our computers? How much time do you spend on them that you could spend face-to-face getting to know people?

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