Posted by keith on July 8th, 2010
Here is a picture of a cat in a deckchair, probably relaxing as cats are wont to do from time to time. The cat could be anywhere but I can bet you anything that the cat didn’t travel thousands of miles to wherever it is relaxing in the deckchair especially in order to relax in a deckchair; that cat is just chilled, in the deckchair, being a cat.
I know why many people take vacations (holidays, vacances…), and it’s for a reason that would be absurd if it weren’t so tragically true: it’s to get away from the place where they live. Not to go somewhere else – although that is often cited as the reason – but, to put it another way, to be in a place other than that where they spend most of their lives so as not to be reminded of what they do for the rest of the year. Oh, there are plenty of people I know – myself included – who go on vacations solely to see other places and/or meet other people, but they are in the minority.
You see, the vast majority of people living in the civilized world are stuck (so it seems) with a life that only releases them from its industrialised grip for a very short time once every year; or maybe twice if you can arrange things that way. Weekends, for most people, are spent doing the things that couldn’t be managed during the rest of the week because there wasn’t the time or energy to do them. Stuck in the spin-cycle of sleep-work-eat-watch-sleep-work-eat-watch…sleep-shop-clean-eat-watch-sleep… then the vacation becomes that slowly brightening light at the far end of a long, long shift that the industrialised and their families pinpoint as one of their few realisable aspirations.
What a bloody hopeless existence!
A few years ago I authored an essay called “The Problem With…Tourism” that set out the basic environmental and humanitarian issues of this pernicious industry. Here’s an extract:
As with many large-scale commercial ventures, the users of tourism are being promised a dream. That dream comes with few strings attached. That dream can be expensive, but the potential returns are good memories for life. And we are addicted to that dream; the one fantastic holiday that we want to repeat over and over again; the sense of “getting away from it all”, enjoying better weather, great entertainment, a chance to meet different people, and the cachet that goes with having done all this; all essentially selfish things, but none of them harmful as such.
As we continue to be enchanted by the riches that tourism has to offer, we fail to see the stream of people coming with us that grows ever wider, feeding on the same dream, taking advantage of the richly polluting cheap flights that deposit the hoards of people who engulf delicate habitats with concrete and suck dry the natural riches that so attracted them in the first place.
Does it have to be this way?
Do we ever stop and think of the reasons we go where we do? Do we actually consider the impact that our travelling, accommodation and entertainment are having on planet Earth?
The impact of tourism on the natural environment is huge, and growing at an enormous rate. With a current annual growth rate of about 5% in the western world, the emissions from flying are expected to triple in less than 25 years – far more if you consider the potentially enormous growth expected from China and other rapidly developing nations.
And on the surface, it is the act of tourism that seems to be the real problem – the pollution of travelling and the seasonal populations of travellers, along with the concentration camp-like existance of tourists, shut off from the outside world, economically unreachable by the people who are supposedly set to “benefit” from this tide of humanity. But as becomes clear when you analyse the way the civilized world is run – for the benefit of the corporate elites and their toadying political makeweights – tourism is even more sinister than this: it is a way of screwing every last drop of humanity from civilization’s willing slaves in return for a few weeks in the sun and, if you’re really unlucky, more opportunities to hand your money over to the corporate world.
And they call this a holiday?
Do you know the simplest way to short-circuit this horrible facade? Simply refuse to do what you are told.
I don’t have a detailed list of Undermining tasks of varying risks to offer you this month: just a simple set of ideas. Only you can make your mind up how risky they are, and whether you want to do them. But if you do take them, you may find yourself escaping far more than just the Tourist Trap…
If you are being sold something, don’t buy it.
If you are encouraged to go somewhere, don’t go there.
If you are offered incentives to make journeys or experience thrills you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, throw them back in the faceless faces of those that offer them.
If there is a way, any way, to get out of the spin cycle, slow down and take control of your life then take it!
Enjoy time your way, not the way of the machine.