Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of teaspoons and soapboxes

I have had quite a few things on my mind this past week. Amongst other things, I am getting my first laptop (YAY!), my parents and grandparents had a holiday, a Halloween dress-up is coming, nothing is happening with my project (a bad thing). So, instead, I have been thinking about the ills of the world. And teaspoons.

A while ago in one of our lab meetings, we discussed an awesome paper that was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) about disappearing teaspoons. The authors did a neat little study on teaspoons in tearooms. They had a few interesting findings, one of which really surprised me: The rate of disappearance of higher quality spoons was not significantly higher than that of lower quality spoons... Anyway, what I have gotten around to thinking about, is that there must be some kind of teaspoon heaven (also mentioned in the paper, as a possibly place to go for unlimited spoons). Seriously. Teaspoons must be going somewhere, and surely the would have reached a saturation point by now, if teaspoons are still being manufactured! So: Is there a teaspoon heaven?

And now for the second: The soapbox. I live in South Africa, almost a new country. We have recently become a democracy, and our past is shrouded in racism. One would think, in the normal progression of things that people who have previously been oppressed would get a sense of entitlement, and this is generally the case. Fair enough. But it appears not to be limited to one race. Everyone (ok ok, a lot of people) has this attitude!

If everyone has the same sense of entitlement, the same attitude of "I'll take everything you can give me and more", where does this leave us? Less than what we started with. If no-one can be accommodating, and maybe even giving (instead of taking), the world (or SA), or even my university community might be a happier place?

One example I have thought about is littering. I've posted on the subject before, and now might have some insight into why people do it. Its rather complicated, but with my theory of entitlement, might just make sense. Maybe people litter because if someone else has to pick up their rubbish, they will be higher up in the proverbial food chain than the cleaner. So, although I don't throw down my sweet wrappers, pens and other general rubbish, I have made a resolution:

To pick up just a few pieces of litter a day.

It wont be much, and I'm not going to make much of a difference, but still. Its something. How else do you challenge and change the attitudes and mindsets of those around you?


Luke said...

Wow Leia! That's admirable!

I msut admit, I agree with you about the attitudes of people. It really bothers me that the world is in the state it's in for that exact reason. We are experiencing a potentially catastrophic climate shift and why? Because everyone has the attitude of 'I'm going to take what I need, and more, now. Who cares about the consequences! I'm not going to be alive to experience them anyway!' That last part in particular bothers me the most! How self-centred can you possibly get!? AARGH! People are so dumb...

Athena said...

First - YAY again about the laptop! Hope the build-up for the excitement is going well :)

Secondly - the teaspoon article was pretty good reading. Thanks for the reminder :)
Hmm, reading your post made me wonder whether there is sock heaven too...

Finally - I completely agree with you about the dangerous mindset! It is so annoying, but also tragic that we have just become so self-centered and isolated from humanity itself. The attitude of 'every man for himself' is just really sad.

And it can be something as simple as picking up litter (which I am totally going to join you in doing).

I agree with Luke about people have 'dumb' attitudes - there is no other way to describe it!

And your Gandhi-approach is the best way to appraoch it!

Thanks for this post Megs!

Candice said...

Wherever the teaspoons and socks go, I can only assume that it is near a giant pile of socks and ... wait for it... pens! At the vet, we are forever losing pens! I don't know where they go, but my boss will pick up a pen, use it in the consulting room and it'll never be seen again! I'm convinced that one day we'll do stock-take and discover 2000 pens lurking beneath a cupboard. Incidentally, Helen's mentioned that she has the same problem at her vet! hmm...