The not so common good

Sometimes, when speaking about the Brazilians, I have to stop myself from generalizing. The Northeast is not always representative of the entire country and Alagoas even less so. Having said this, one of the things that bothers me most here is ‘the matter of fact’ with which common places are polluted.

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According to the discussions with other people, the the main reason seems to be a lack of sense for the common good. The idea that the beach, a park, or the streets are places for everybody and that it is therefore everybody’s duty to keep them clean; seems to be wanting. Now, I don’t say people should clean these places, they should however stop littering them.

Still, a common sight here – to give just one example – are children on the beach, dropping their plastic cups or ice wrapping wherever they happen to stand. Will the parents scold them? Show them how to do it better? Nope, one the contrary, they serve as a fine example; dropping the beer can right next to the chair where they sit.

Whether this behaviour speaks more of thoughtlessness or arrogance – à la ‘someone will surely clean this up’; I cannot say. The pity is that even those who complain about this attitude won’t go and challenge the ones who throw their rubbish around.

With tourism being one of the most important sources of income in the region, there is hope that over time, this attitude may change. But why not simply for the sake of it?


One response to “The not so common good

  1. Interesting what you say about pollution and littering – I saw exactly the same thing in China and India. Althought people keep their own homes very clean, when it is a ‘common area’ they seem to think it is not their responsibility to keep it clean, since it doesn’t belong to them.. I guess environmental consciousness is a ‘developed country’ thing…

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