Monday, October 26, 2015

Activism...

This morning, I happened to come across an entertaining thread about a German bus driver for the military schools smoking while on the bus.  I don't know if any kids were on the bus while he was smoking; I have heard that in the past, the drivers are allowed to smoke if no one is riding.  Anyway, someone saw the smoking going on and raised some hell about it.  A big thread full of concerned mothers commenced.  I thought it was entertaining.

It's not that I don't think second hand smoke is dangerous, offensive, or wrong.  It definitely is, especially in front of kids.  I don't smoke and I don't like being around cigarette smoke.  If I had kids, I'd feel even less affection for that habit.  It's just that issues with the German school bus drivers come up all the time and nothing ever really gets done.

Community activism can be a tough undertaking.  While one determined person can accomplish things, many determined people can accomplish more.  But not everyone has the same level of determination to get things done.  What's more, I think many people come to this community thinking they'll be here for a short time.  They want to enjoy their time in Europe or have other things they'd rather be doing.  So rather than taking action, they either tolerate the things that annoy them or find some other way of avoiding the issue.  In this case, they walk to school, buy a second car and drive, or homeschool.

The bus issue is not new.  I remember several months ago, people were upset that one of the drivers was letting an unauthorized friend on the bus.  The guy would pick up his friend and drive him on the route, then drop him off.  There were complaints aplenty, but I don't remember anything of substance ever getting done.

Anyway, this morning, the subject came up again and it turned into a big thread of complaints.  I still thought it was funny.  There were a lot of outraged comments from people, but I wonder how many of them took any action.  Some of them were probably wondering what they could do.  I think the first step is to band together, but that's easier said than done.  It's hard to work with people due to any number of things that can come up.  Sometimes peoples' egos can get in the way of progress.  Sometimes laziness disrupts the process.  Politics can certainly hinder things getting accomplished.

I guess I was also just thinking that this is one more problem I don't have because I have no kids...  That, and people can get very sanctimonious when it comes to children.  It's not that I don't like kids and think they shouldn't be protected.  It's more that sometimes kids are overvalued.

Germany isn't a third world country.  They've been successfully developing for thousands of years.  When it comes to smoking, they are a little more "old world" in their thinking.  But hell, they have a good quality of life here.  Shit works pretty well.  I don't blame parents for being upset about the smoking on the bus, but I do think sometimes Americans can be a little over the top with their complaints.  But maybe I'd feel differently if I'd had a kid.  

4 comments:

  1. I don't see it so much as kids being overvalued as parents' inability to understand that the Earth and the other planets in our solar system do not revolve around their child. Still, I think I get where you're coming from.

    This summer I went with my family to a wedding reception. The bride was from Germany. The reception was at the groom's parents' home in the bay area. The bride had several relatives from Germany in attendance. One of them, without asking anyone's permission, lit up a cigarette in the groom's parents' living room. The groom's mother was quite upset with the man, who was in turn upset with her because he felt he had a right to light up wherever he pleased. It was probably a true case of culture clash, with neither side understanding the other's culture. Still, the burden falls on the one who lights up to know whether or not it's OK to do so at a given place.

    My mom says that while smoking cigarettes is basically never good for one's body, the cigarettes sold in most of Europe have less tar and are less damaging than are the ones sold in the U.S. Is there any truth to this whatsoever?

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    1. Overvalued is the term George Carlin used. It seems like a lot of people think their kids are special snowflakes. If every kid is special, special can't exist. Kids should definitely be protected, but the hysteria surrounding some issues is truly ridiculous.

      I have no idea about the cigarettes sold here. It wouldn't surprise me if they have less tar. It seems like Europeans are more concerned with community welfare than Americans are. But that just may be my impression. It is true that people smoke a lot more here than they do in the States.

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  2. Regarding children, value, and specialness, it's probably largely a matter of semantics, but I would like to think all parents believe their own children to be about as special as special could ever be yet have the understanding that not everyone else felt that way about their particular children. That seems to be where today's parents are losing perspective. They seem to think that others should recognize the divinity of their respective children and wonder how anyone could think the poop coming from their own precious offspring could ever smell bad. The world would be a sad place if most parents didn't value their almost as much as they value life itself, yet at the same time one would hope that parents would have generalized that while most parents feel that way about their own children, they don't necessarily hold the same views regarding the offspring of others. The problems start when parents think their children are so incredibly special that what is in the best interests of their own children should be allowed to trump the rights of others.

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    1. Yes and that's part of the reason we have so many self centered people growing up now. Kids should be special to their loved ones, but they also need to understand that they are members of society and everyone has rights.

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