In the mid 90ties I spent two weeks on Sansibar, an island in front of the East African coast. A poor island back then remote from all tourism.
Begging didn’t exist. People have not been familiar with rich westerners yet. This island did not know any trash. Each tin can was reused, shreds of cloth have been pulled together for balls children were playing with. I never again saw poverty in such dignity.
The other extreme was Beirut during the civil war. With the decline of the economy and the increase in criminality slowly the community structures broke down.
The trash removal system collapsed. You cannot imagine how this city changed, every other corner heaps of stinky garbage, disgusting and depressing, the other side of the trash coin.
There are two criteria to look at the phenomenon of trash, from the perspective of either wealth or poverty. The wealthier a country, a region, a city, a village the more trash appears, the better the communal structures the less visible is this trash.
The poorer the conditions people live in the less the amount of trash. These two extremes just being hypotheses of mine, simplified maybe, with lots of facets left out, of course.
The trashome - a term I invented
As the genome is the strongest metaphor for explaining the ontogenesis and phylogenesis, the thrashome reflects the development of the various cultural developments on our globe, from the past to the presence as long as the thread is not torn apart and history lost in the haziness of time.
The trashome tells the human story of more or less questionable ”achievements” and ”progress” vertically and horizontally.
For me the trashome describes the composition of the trajectory of tension from wealth to poverty and back again, and, all its transition states, primarily expressed by the spectrum of differing attitudes, habits and morals in the various cultures also called »civilizations«.
I hate this term, it is arrogant and stands for a Western mindset of contempt of the different!
In the so-called civilized world the respect for all living beings was exchanged for the valuing of commodities.
The colorful diversity of trash, former commodities, talks the languages of the respective civilization. What’s trash for the one is precious still for the other.
The trashome’s size and diversity reflects the functionality and organization of municipality structures. In the case of failing politics lots of trash is a mirror of communal poverty and poor governance, while extreme poverty makes trash disappear. Rich countries are clean because they can afford the manpower for removal, the trashome thrives under the carpet.
If the trashome has the inner consistency and power to turn to soil within a reasonable time then human life may thrive on it. I don’t want to talk about other life forms much more fexible and adaptive.
Thrash therefore remains a relative term, it can be beautiful and lovable and it can be disgusting and horrendous.
In times of the insanity of COVID19 it is really amazing that immunity as the strongest stronghold of healthiness, wellbeing and fitness is almost eliminated from the public discourse and instead replaced by disinfectant procedures, masks and future vaccines - still invisible on the horizon, all extremely questionable protection measures.
All these features characterize the insanity we are currently forced to live in.
Have we all forgotten that from the activity of the immune system which is generating our immunity emerges our quality of life and finally the survival of all species, also us human beings? Don’t we know that we die without immunity? Don’t we remember that we cannot booster an immune system that does not work properly?
Did we forget that immunity needs the interaction with the environment and that our - up to now already exaggerated hygiene - brought us allergies and antibiotic multiresistent microbes?
Don’t be afraid of trash. What we call trash or not is just a matter of perspective. So let’s be fair and let’s not devalue what we created ourselves. Immunity evolves in the presence of trash.