Friday, April 22, 2011

Anti-Anti-bacterial soap

One day while we were still in Thailand, Wally and I met Steph (our new friend from compasio) for coffee. We actulaly ran into her and one of her friends (that we also met) for breakfast.

It was the Saturday at the end of the week we'd been visiting so there'd been lots rummaging through our minds.

AS we were heading from the breakfast place over to the coffee place we ran into a couple of the street kids that we'd met and Steph knew well from the Drop Inn Centre. THey were out begging for food.

It's a different picture than you might think.

THere was a little boy around 9 or 10 with a baby in a wrap on his back and a little girl around 9 maybe with personality oozing from her pores. She was actually one I hung around quite a bit at the Drop Inn the day we were there. Spunky she was!

Steph broke through the language barrier quite successfully, as was the practise, to let them know she'd buy them lunch from 7/11. She took the little girl inside the store to help her pick out food for her and the little boy. We sat outside with the little boy and waited.

Soon enough they emerged from the store with the popular Roma noodles in a bowl filled with hot water and a couple of bottles of milk.

The little girl and boy situated themselves on the pavement with the three of us adults surrounding them.

The baby was around 5 or 6 months old with a dirt covered face and snot pulsing from it's nose. (I may have shared a bit about this before already).

THe boy took the baby out of the wrap and set her on the pavement. She had no diaper on and was wearing a dress. She sat up perfectly fine on her own, happy to play with any wrappers from the food she could find.

The kids ate carefully as the water was hot. They didn't gorge themselves but took their time enjoying their 'catch of the day'.

As I sat there I said to Steph:

'The baby is NOT wearing a diaper.' (pause)
'She's wearing a DRESS', I add.
'She's sitting DIRECTLY on the pavement.'
'Oh. My. Goodness. How does she not get an infection?!' I finally spit out.

Steph nods and braces her smile muscles and says 'I know' in a way that explains that I am in the first person to ever say those four sentences with the emphasis that I through in.

A conversation ensued surrounding the incredible immune systems of the people there (particularly the poor who live in more dire, dirty circumstance).

I refer again to those that live at the dump and how any one in North America would have a hissy fit to just have the kind of dirt they fashioned on them for moments would sent out fits of the Willies all around. There would be pleas for soap, a clean cloth and not to mention anti-bacterial cleanser STAT!!

I thought of friends that Wally and I have who have shares in the anti-bacterial franchise. Shopping mall food court tables, grocery carts and any surface tht could have been touched by .... anything would be vigilently scrubbed before being touched or used.

Now I confess I'm not generally this clean (anti-bacterial wise). I wash my hadns after using the bathroom, touching rough meat or getting something sticky or truly dirty on my hands but honestly my house, car and life are NOT anti-bacterial tested.

I barely ever wash my fruit or veggies, you'd be hard pressed not to find something rotting in my car, and my house is lucky to getting thoroughly cleaned once a month. I don't live in a sty but it's hardly germ free.

After seeing what many of these people lived in and probably survived BECAUSE they lived in it, I felt much better about my less than stellar housework habits.

I chatted with Steph about the over clenliness of North Americans and how anti-bacterial soaps and such have infiltrated our culture. We have a heart attack at the thought of something having germs on it and forget that there is a degree of germs we were designed to live with for our our protection and immunity.

As I thought on this topic I pondered how our society has done it's best to omit any form of foreign matter from it's radius. How it tries so hard to clear away all perceived impurities from it's world.

Are you dirty? Let's clean you. Are your clothes old? Let's get you new ones. Is that furnature damaged (or just outdated)? Better look at new stuff. Do you live below the poverty line? Let's boost you up.

We never think about the benefits of HAVING these perceived impurities.

A better immune system, less care about acceptable fashion and more use of what we have (perhaps learning how to do something like SEWING the ripped seem in your pants), enjoying a simpler life (assuming you have the essentials like food, clothing and place to live).

Though I'm sure I'm coming across as a crazed hippy that is willing to give up her need to shop, her soap, and her economic status I will assure you right now that I'm not.

But, I am willing to entertain the thought that we North American could stand to learn something from what we would normally consider a 'poor and pitiful people'.

We think we have it all going on with fighting diseases (guess what we weren't meant to live forever!!!!) and climbing up the proverbial ladder of 'success' to assume a greater facade of 'Life's better when you have more'.

I won't deny that since Wally has found a job he loves our life feels better. Most would assume because we are financially feeling more secure. I would argue we are happier more because HE is happier and fulfilled in his work than because of money but there's no way to prove that (well, unless we sold everything I guess and lived simpler ... without fancy and possibly ugly lamps).

I suppose the point of my rambling is this: is a world with less impurities better, more fulfilling and easier than one full of them? Or does it just impose more hidden, yet possibly more deadly illnesses and challenges than we care to admit to having?

Here we get flustered about the house being clean when the family comes over, there they worry about having a house. Here, when food costs go up, we MAY have to consider not putting our 3 kids in soccer (and are devestated that we aren't giving them an adequate childhood), there they worry about feeding their kids at all and kids worry if they should go home at night when they haven't earned enough money begging that day (having a 'childhood' is not pressing on the to do list). Here we fret about our RRSP contributions and there they wonder ....

Anti-bacterial soap taught me a lot on this trip.

A lot.

My mom gave me a bunch of travel sized anti-bacterial gels for Christmas because they came from a store I like that sells wonderfully smelling soaps, lotions and the like.

I've never liked anti-bacterial gels. They are sticky and unnatural.

I use them once a week when I visit Dolly in the nusing home and I'm gaurunteed to have touched something urine or saliva covered. They also smell deliscious in a place that doesn't.

Otherwise, I prefer water. Pure and natural.

I wonder in what other areas of my life I could be more natural? More pure.

There are many, no doubt.

Most people would look at the dirty children/people begging in Thailand as dirty and impure. But they had something I don't...

Natural immunity to the simplest things.

There's something to be said for that.

Steph taking the little girl in to get the food.