A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Generally, North Americans believe that the rest of the planet is inhabited by angry people who hate us, so it follows that most media outlets don’t concern themselves with “foreign” news. However, as spring slowly slides into summer — and there’s not much going on locally except baseball and basketball playoffs — a few items slip across the ocean, just to prove we remember that the rest of the world is still rotating.
In Hong Kong, a couple of thousand people held a march to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. (Yeah, it’s been 30 years!) Meanwhile, in the rest of China, nobody much noticed because officially the Tiananmen Square Protest (read Massacre) didn’t happen. Oddly, most of the marchers look as if they weren’t even born when Deng Xiaoping ordered his tanks to clear out the student protesters and reaffirm Mao’s maxim that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
The European elections are over and, like 99.99% of North Americans, I have no idea what just happened. First of all, it looks as if everybody and his sister gets a political party in Europe, and aside from the Greens, they’re all known by a variety of acronyms. Plus, aside from the far right and the far left, to the untrained eye, they all look remarkably similar. Then there’s the question of who represents who. Here’s just one example (and this scenario played out all over Europe on Sunday.) According to the media, in France, Madame Le Pen kicked the crap out of Monsieur Macron — except Le Pen’s group got 23.3% of the vote and Macron’s got 22.4%. That’s less than a 1% difference! And, according to my math, this means the majority of French people (54.3%) voted against both of them. I understand that Europeans have been playing at politics for a lot longer we have and – look around — it’s worked out pretty well. Besides, given our recent electoral history, we have no room to point fingers. However, from this side of the Atlantic, it all looks like Game of Thrones – minus the dragons.
And finally, back in Asia
There’s a serious problem on Mount Everest – overcrowding. Apparently, so many people want to stand “at the top of the world” that climbers have to form a line to reach the summit. That means standing around in the cold and the wind and the lack of oxygen, waiting your turn. And this year, the wait time is anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour and a half. The problem is, like tourists everywhere, these idle alpine adventurers are dropping tons of trash on the pristine mountainside – which (from the pictures I’ve seen) isn’t pristine any more. And, unlike most tourist attractions, there aren’t any janitors up there to clean up the mess. As much as I worry about climate change, I’m beginning to think it’s going to be bucket lists and selfies that destroy this planet.
Tune in again next year for more news of the world.