On air: Is a Western lifestyle something for us all to aspire to?

This came out of a discussion about climate change.

UPDATE: A couple of you have said give me a better definition of ‘western lifestyle’. well without meaning to fudge it, of course different people have different definitions. However, what the group of delegates who suggested this had in mind I think, is a culture which places great emphasis on personal wealth creation, on buying things with that wealth, and on measuring success in terms of money. Maybe we could add into that definition, a freedom to do whatever you want. Within reason, you can say what you want, wear what you want, and have sex with whoever you want in the West. Some say there is too little moral guidance on what is right and wrong, others would celebrate that that is the case. And last but not least, some would define western living as lacking strong commitment to family and community. Though again I know this could be disputed. Does that help? Here’s my original post.

I was pointing out to a delegate here in Glasgow, that many Africans have said to me, ‘why should we make accommodation for climate change, while Westerns have lived like kings for 100 years, and just as we are beginning to, you’re telling us to stop’. That’s an interesting issue in itself, but then one delegate jumped in and said ‘but why are we assuming that we would want to live like Western kings? I would suggest, regardless of climate change there are other ways of living that are better anyway’. And so we got into a fascinating conversation about whether the rest of the world should be aspiring to live like Westerners. At the end of our editorial meeting, they agreed they’d like to ask you about this.

91 Responses to “On air: Is a Western lifestyle something for us all to aspire to?”

  1. 1 Brett
    June 20, 2008 at 14:00

    First impression: Oh dear god, no.

    But then again there are plenty of other lifestyles not to aspire to. I think a mix or a hybrid, taking the best from all walks of life would be a good choice 🙂

    Then again is it hypocritical of me to live in the west and say its not a lifestyle to aspire to? While I shun some aspects of the society, I’m still more ‘western’ than my third world counterpart.

  2. 2 Robert
    June 20, 2008 at 14:11

    Is there a western lifestyle or culture? As is often said Europe, Britian and America all have differences. Even inside of a country there are stark difference between the lifestyles of different people, some good and some bad.

  3. 3 VictorK
    June 20, 2008 at 14:23

    If you work and organise yourselves like Westerners, if you order your lives and societies according to Western economic and political values, than you will have the option, if you wish, of living like Westerners. Just ask the Japanese. The Western lifestyle is more about hard work and discipline than mere aspiration.

    But I don’t see the West as a universal model for the whole world. People should live according to their customs and values, and only borrow from others what would be an obvious improvement or fill some need. It’s probably easier to imitate those who you resemble. Africans would be better off studying and borrowing from the more modest attainments of countries like Mexico and Indonesia, than overreaching themselves by looking to the likes of Canada and Sweden.

    Hope the thread doesn’t degenerate into a ‘WHY I HATE THE WEST’ rant-fest. That happens a lot on WHYYS.

  4. June 20, 2008 at 14:42

    people should leave according to their means and income, i tend to woender why we squeeze ourgoodselfs on the pretext of changing our models opf life.

    above all, the western community has had a negative impact somehow somewhere in the african context way of living and cultural effects.

    the aaspiring youngturks in the african sectors, perspectives tend to emulate the west but not knowing that more worse or good may happen. regardless to say copy the west without enough resources and none attainment of the goals may tend to end in a dissaray.

    we have seen people, communities copy the western lifestyle but reallity is that they dont manage to make through otherwise, worse may happen.

    lets borrow western customs but have enough resources and fulfilment of goals.


  5. June 20, 2008 at 14:46

    It isn’t that I don’t think you should want to live in a prosperous free democracy; I just don’t want the world to. If you think prices on things are ridiculous now, imagine the entire world wanting two cars, 2.5 kids, health care, education, food beyond the need, and illegalized prostitution. All while polluting, consuming, and cannibalizing our natural resources. Could you imagine if everybody wanted nuclear weapons, 60% more oil then they produce, and a 7-11 on every corner? I think the world would implode.

    Anybody who tells you they “want to spread democracy and freedom is lying to you.” It is an accidental lie. They just don’t understand what they are saying.

    Then again, I would love to see freedom and democracy spread. It just would require humans not to be human. So I guess I am lying.

  6. 6 Shirley
    June 20, 2008 at 14:53

    No. We in the West would not have the slightest clue how to provide for ourselves if we lost our precious Walmarts and gas stations. We are the least self-sufficient people on the face of the earth. Granted, there are several exceptions among us, but in general as a society, we take from this earth, leave our waste upon the spoils of her natural resources that we abused, and leave it behind in our quest for bigger and better to accommodate our own little laze spheres. God save us all from ourselves.

  7. 7 jade
    June 20, 2008 at 15:15

    not sure how to describe western lifestyle. perhaps: better medical care (if one can afford it), cleaner water (depends on where one lives), creative expressions (if one does not dig too deep into philosophy and civility).

    also get the feeling that it’s a low trust society, people treasure short-term benefits more than long-term benefits, freedom to be an individual more than communal good.

    on the whole, may be better lifestyle is just an illusion?

  8. 8 Tom
    June 20, 2008 at 15:46

    The concept of western culture or lifestyle doesn’t encapsulate all the good that is in this world. It is, after all, the culture of Europe. It doesn’t equate perfection. For all its power, efficiency, wealth and material abundance, the West is also burdened by many social problems, possibly falling victim to its openness and success – family breakup, obesity, substance abuse, youth homelessness, teenage pregnancy, violent crimes, religious apathy, to name a few.

    The world shouldn’t aspire to be “like the west” but rather pick up the best of others and only if they fit well into their situation. What works for one may not necessarily work for another.

    Many people consider the Japanese as “western” when the fact is the complete opposite. The Japanese is a unique, civilised, and highly adaptable culture. During times when China was the centre of world excellence the Japanese has benefited enormously by absorbing many aspects of the Chinese culture and its philosophical, technical and political expertise. From Meiji era up to this day it has grown to where they are today by picking up the very best of the West. Despite its openness to outside influences it has still managed to retain its native cultural characteristics. It’s an example of a culture that has been able to progress and evolve by applying the best of other cultures to its own full advantage.

  9. 9 Nick in USA
    June 20, 2008 at 16:01

    Are westerners the happiest people on earth? Nope? Then, why would anyone want to be like us? Every culture has its own strong and weak points. When I was in Taiwan, people always told me to stop talking about how america is better. When I returned to the states, people told me to stop talking about how Taiwan is better. What did I learn from this?

    Lesson 1: I’m a complainer

    Lesson 2: People get super defensive if you criticize any part of their country.This is particularly true for the folks back home in the midwest who believe that america is the king of all countries and every other country is third world in comparison. Most of these people have never travelled outside of the country, so they have no idea what is out there.)

    Lesson 3: Most people absolutely refuse to live like someone in another country. I don’t know if this comes from insecurities or what, but people always say things like, “I’m american, so I will do things the american way.” Even if the Taiwanese way is far more successful.

    Lesson 4: While travelling, I found that there were more people having a western lifestyle forced on them, than people aspiring to a western lifestyle.

    Lesson 5: Big companies like Wal Mart, Tesco, and Costco are moving into asia, and will eventually kill all of the small business there, just as they have done in the USA. In place like Taiwan, where every building has some sort of small business on the ground level, nobody will be able to support themselves. These huge department stores will employee 50 people and put 1000’s of people out of business.

  10. 10 jade
    June 20, 2008 at 16:03

    @ Tom,

    your Japanese example shows wholesale adoption of a lifestyle can be stupid, and a strong culture knows what to adopt and what to retain.

    when immigrants moves to an adopted country, they had to make a decision whether to keep their own culture or follow the main stream culture, and shed their identities. some children live a double life: one at home and one in schools.

  11. 11 Nelson
    June 20, 2008 at 16:43

    I have travelled quite a bit around the world. Every society has its own life style both positives and negatives. What we should aspire to it incorporate positive aspects of any lifestyle into our own and create a unique blend that will make us better individuals.

  12. 12 Mark from kansas
    June 20, 2008 at 16:44

    The sterotypical western lifestyle is nothing to aspire to. This life style is consumng the plannet. There is hardly any moral guidance, religeon is a product not and idea, everything we do is destructive to some where else or the planet as a whole(Paris HIlton). With that said there are many “western” people who do not fit the stereo type, at least here in the midwest. I have lived on the east coast for a while and it is a different planet, that does fit more closely to the stereo type. The good things, the freedom of speech and press, the vaugue resemblance to free and fair election that are not followed by armed conflict or genicide, are what needs to spread. I would say the rule of law, but we’ve blown that recently to with are failiure to prosecute or leaders for their crimes against humanity. So you take a little freedom for your selves (our exports aren’t going to well) and send us some rule of law (Under international law you can detain them for crimes against humanity in any country) and lets try and eliminate sterotypes and stick to the facts and please stop hurting each other.

  13. 13 Lubna
    June 20, 2008 at 16:46

    Hello… My personal choice would be a hybrid life-style that’s a magic mixture of what’s best about the East and what’s best about the West… Actually I do consider myself to be a global citizen.. It’s sooooo true that my Precious Iraq is in my blood, my heart, my soul, and my mind, but I do also consider the entire universe to be my homeland, and all humans to be my Precious brothers and sisters… So if there’re some defective aspects of the Western civilisation from my point of view, then that surely won’t prevent me from recognising the fact that there’re many other good aspects of the Western civilisation that do deserve to be applauded and praised, and the same thing does apply to the Eastern civilisation… With my love.. Yours forever, Lubna..

  14. 14 Pangolin-California
    June 20, 2008 at 16:58

    Only an insane person would deliberately emulate the ‘Western Lifestyle’ after a thorough examination. The only way that we can tolerate it is with massive use of alcohol, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, pain-killers, marijuana and caffeine.

    The first thing most Westerners do in the morning is dose themselves with a stimulant and the last thing they do at night is take several medications to soothe them enough that they can sleep.

    If the Western lifestyle is so great why do so many of us require medication to make it through an average day?

  15. 15 Jens
    June 20, 2008 at 17:14


    i know what you mean, since i rode the carzy train as well for way to long. however, somehow i managed to jump of it, ok i still like a good cup of coffee in the morning, but all the rest is pretty much gone AND i do feel a lot better for it. many if not all of the classic civilization mediated disease can be almost completly eliminated by having a healthy diet. my mind boggles when i see some people shopping in a supermarket, they might as well just take several pills of chemicals and swallow them. no wonder we have such a high rate of obesity, diabetes, asthma etc etc, since we stuff ourself silly on fortified and preserved junk food. just go to the average restaurant and everything is doused in saturated fats and salt to make it taste good. the one thing i truely regret is that i am living in a desert state at high alltitued and i can not grow my own vegetables or have a great local farmers market near by. sometimes i do wish i find a job in the pacific northwest……

    anyway, my day ends with a nice homemade herbal tea, since herbs do actually pretty well down here.

  16. June 20, 2008 at 17:17

    Hi WHYSers!

    First off, I am all for a “Western lifestyle”, to the extent that that “lifestyle” offers a meaningful value to peoples’ experiences collectively and otherwise. However, I am not so sure just exactly what is “Western” in the sense in which values of “hard work”, etc. are constituted herein as the equivalent of the West.

    I am not so sure I want to agree with that definition insofar as it seems to imply that non-Western values are not fundamentally concerned with values of a similar nature. I concede that life in the West is organised around different indices of self worth which are emphasised in particular ways. However, I am not so sure that I can see where, in all instances, the the West is necessarilly more committed to principles of hard work over and above anywhere else on the planet.

    That said, I certainly enjoy the privileges and comforts of my fairly “Western” experience to the extent that it allows me the wherewithal to do many of the things I wish to, such as the pursuit of an education and the opportunity to organise my life in specific ways. However, I am not always certain that the “freedom” that is often championed as a key part of the Western experience is always as “free” as suggested by the term, as there are almost always constraints with which one operates in any context, as well as alternative ways of “breaking the rules”. That would mean to me that, in ways, the West is really different but perhaps that that difference is not always better…Just a thought!

  17. 17 James in Portland, Oregon
    June 20, 2008 at 17:23

    I think the States should aspire to be like Turkey; if officials try to implement or repeal laws based upon religious beliefs, oust them! Ban them from politics!
    That’s the type of secularism I can only dream of as an American!

  18. 18 John in Salem
    June 20, 2008 at 17:24

    If others want to aspire to a Western lifestyle that’s fine but they need to do it intelligently and not just look at the benefits it gives – look at the price we and the rest of the world pay for us to live like this. If they can learn from our hindsight what we would have done differently then maybe they can show the rest of the world how it SHOULD be done.

  19. 19 Andrew
    June 20, 2008 at 17:30

    An amusing thought, but how many westerners look to other cultures to fill voids they feel they have in their lives? Not satisfied with their way of life, many seek to travel to far off lands and not just experience another culture but immerse themselves in it and take back parts of it to their own homes.
    Western cultures offers their own traditions some of which are wonderful, but there does seem to be a restless undertone, often one of discontent and spiritual emptiness, that pervades the western model of personal gain and personal comfort at all cost at the expense of inner fulfilment. Perhaps those in other lands should see now, before embarking on a rampant pursuit of material gain, that they may just possess something far greater in their own culture and society than we in the west have. It can be seen in many nations where western thinking and the pursuit of western goals does not bring a better society, instead many new and hitherto unseen problems.

  20. 20 Kwabena
    June 20, 2008 at 17:33

    In Ghana teenage pregnancy cannot be good under any circumstance. It mostly ends the education of the mother, very few teenager, even with a wealthy background are able to further their education after delivery

  21. 21 Katharina in Ghent
    June 20, 2008 at 17:33

    This may be a nasty thing to say but my suspicion is that almost everyone outside the West wants to live like a Westerner, not always seeing how much we have to work for our lifestyle. The West certainly sees more immigrants than other regions, and I also have the feeling that at least part of the reason, why the Middle East is such a hotbed for terrorism, is simple envie that we infidels have all the goodies and they don’t. In Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is flat” he describes a survey where the Arab countries were looking at which Western country matches their combined GDB, and the answer was Spain – which was muslim in the medieval ages! According to the book, that caused a bit of an uproar…

  22. 22 Luz Maria Guzman
    June 20, 2008 at 17:34

    Is being a teenage mum a bad thing?

    First, I think being an irresponsible and crappy mum is a bad thing.
    Not all teenage mothers are bad mothers, like not all “grown-up”
    mothers are good mothers. Each case it?s different. However…

    I think is better to wait to be an adult to have a child. It is a huge responsibility and a lot of work. Sixteen years old girls are not mature enough to handle the pressure. Sadly, many of them have to grow-up very fast when they become pregnant at that age.

    Taking care of a baby is not easy. Nobody is really fully prepared when they become parents. It should be an informed and thoughtful decision.
    Usually, teenage pregnancy is the opposite.

    And finally, I think not all persons are suited to have children. I have friends that have decide not to have children, they don?t have any desire to become pregnant. That kind of decision can only be made by women -and men- that are old enough to understand what entitles to have children. With so many unwanted and unloved children in the world, we should prevent teenage pregnancy in order to give all girls -and boys- the chance to become mature enough to make the right decisions.

  23. 23 Will Rhodes
    June 20, 2008 at 17:40

    Aspire to? I’m not sure – but all other nations want to have what we do in the west, is that too clouded an answer?

  24. 24 The Spangle Maker
    June 20, 2008 at 17:57

    + This whole western lifestyle thing is a load of hooey. I find it obnoxious to suggest there is some inherent aspect of what a Western life is. As if, western people conjured up this life they wish to lead and set out to define it. It is a matter of circumstance, a confluence of organic random events occurring within places of (mostly) freedom.

    + It is comical that there are so many proposals that the impoverished are more virtuous and good natured, leading simple helpful lives. Vice versa as if the rest of the world consciously developed the architecture for their culture and society. These people too are creatures of circumstance.

  25. 25 Robert
    June 20, 2008 at 18:10

    To World Have Your Say:

    I have taught English to foreign students. I see how much they have to struggle to want the American lifestyle. “Don’t bother” I tell them. It’s all about materialism, not deep thinking and the important things in life like love, health, and wisdom.

  26. 26 Mason - Park City, Utah
    June 20, 2008 at 18:18

    I think we need to develop a Global Lifestyle that takes the good from the West and from all societies in the world, the Internet and the rapid spread of knowledge, it has brought, can enable us to take the good from all societies and incorporate them into our lives as individuals.

  27. 27 Virginia Davis
    June 20, 2008 at 18:18

    All the things, the cars, the media, the cruelty, no – let’s move on from “the Western life style” into a more human world. Virginia in Oregon

  28. 28 Joe Bussell
    June 20, 2008 at 18:19

    I have observed the lack of community in areas of the US, and I have thankfully found a community in Eugene Oregon where I know all my neighbors. Having lived all over the US as a youth and then as a college student I have seen more and more people walk by each other without even seeing each other. It seems to be a reflection of the size of the city. I wonder if there is a real study of the correlation to disconnectedness to population density.

    I have not seen a correlation to race, religion, or gender as a whole.

  29. 29 Andrew
    June 20, 2008 at 18:20

    All of us should aspire to MODERNITY, a term often confused by many as WESTERNIZATION.

  30. 30 Venessa
    June 20, 2008 at 18:22

    Basic human rights is what everyone should aspire to.

  31. 31 Joseph - Seatlle
    June 20, 2008 at 18:24

    I think the issue of teen pregnancy gets at the heart of whether we human beings are a sustainable species or not, and reflects our unplanned economies.
    Unplanned babies are a result of unplanned economies.

    Irregardless of age, all women having babies should:
    1) Have plenty of money,
    2) Actually want the baby,
    3) Not live in a over-populated region.

  32. June 20, 2008 at 18:24

    @ Katharina,

    I cannot speak to envy, as you noted above, but I often wonder if part of the reason why people in other parts of the world trek to Western countries in such droves does not have to do, mainly, with economic reasons? Whether real or perceived, the trade and other policies instituted by the West through such organisations as the WHO, World Bank and IMF, among others, have really undermined at a certain level the extent to which some of these countries could have beenb able to amass the type of wealth that exists in some other parts of the world.

    Certainly, there is no denying that issues of prosperity have much to do with good management. However, as Fidel Castro (of Cuba) has argued in the past that the notion of giving loans with extremely long and powerful strings attached to them, which also aid the conditions of poverty in many of the developing economies of the world, is not really help. In his view, any form of assistance that comes with such stringent measures attached to them, effectively, undermines the goal of assistance.

    I am not so sure, I always agree with that position. However, I cannot help but argue that that the imbalances which exist between West and East and North and South are very real. I am often afraid when the matter is simply to understood under terms like envy. Indeed, if economic growth, prosperity and stability, etc. were essentially such easy values to achieve, then, most of the West would not have invested as much, I suspect, in the strengthening of their militaries or are off fighting wars in disparate parts of the world as a means of ensuring same. Thereby suggesting that Western achievements have taken a great toll on the world, as a collective community, for all kinds of reasons.

    I would not be too keen to suggest that most people from elsewhere want to live like Westerners. I think it is that they recognise that, at some level, there is a value to adopting “Westerness” whether insofar as that brings them political stability and economic growth, etc. or allows them to exploit certain opportunities which are not immediately available to them in specific contexts.

    Remember, we all want to feed our families and to see our children achieve and become the best they can be. That is no less true for the Wall Street in NYC investor than it is for the subsistence rice farmer in Burma or wherever else. There is no less joy in realising those dreams in Israel then they are in Cambodia. The significant difference is, however, real opportunities. Where these do not exist then people will seek them out, at great costs to themselves and others, as a result.

    Of interest in all of these is just how much of the Occident is appropriated by the West in its “New Age” facination with Eastern philosophies and practises like Feng Shui, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. It is a curious borrowing in which one is almost always at a disadvantage, I find.

  33. 33 Tommy
    June 20, 2008 at 18:25

    So if none of your guests believe that developing countries should look to the West as a benchmark for development? I think that’s very cynical, especially your guest from America. Her sentiments seem to be based on ideals and not on actual progress and development. There are most definitely aspects of American social culture that would do well for people of any race or country; not entirely, but at least to a certain extent.

  34. 34 Vijay
    June 20, 2008 at 18:25

    Yes ,if a western lifestyle means the rule of law, a functioning civil society,no corruption ,clean air water and food ,electricity, roads ,railways , health and education,free speech ,freedom of religion Respect for human rights ,gender ,race and disabilty.
    Here in in India the propoganda since independence (1948)has been that Indians are poor and cultured ,whereas westerners are rich and vulgar ,theifs who stole the nations wealth.
    I hear the same thing said by African asylum seekers.

  35. 35 jonny paris
    June 20, 2008 at 18:29

    What is considered west? I live in paris with plenty of west african. people want food water education a job and a bit of etertaiinment or a bug. if they exploit that with two cars or two goats. well that’s there business. africa or the middle east or the insects on anartica is not more innocent than the usa or glasgow. they want stuff just different.

  36. 36 Edwin Clavijo
    June 20, 2008 at 18:29

    I live in American my parents are South American. My wife is from South Africa and my brother married a women from China. I’m sorry, but… there is no such thing as a full blood “American” in a country that is made only of immigrants. We are all at one point or another from another country.

  37. 37 Ashi in New Jersey
    June 20, 2008 at 18:29

    In terms of Human Rights and Liberties the western world lifestyle is a great way of life, but in terms of the family life, the western world could learn from many non-western countries in the world. I live in New Jersey, but spent 10 years of my life in India, and the sense of family is definately stroger in the non-western world. However as the world is developing, people in those developing countries especially women are learning that they have a choice in life and dont have to adhere to the values of their ancestors. I believe the family values do still exist in the western world, its just that they start later in life because men and women want to achieve their goals before starting a family.

  38. 38 Joey
    June 20, 2008 at 18:29

    What about hygiene?
    Is that something to aspire too?

    I know the British were the first to invent bathing in the ocean(reference needed, some King started his holidays on the coast and enjoyed the beneficial effects of the salty water on his dirty bum)

    What about men wearing underwear?

    Thank you

    Colorado, USA

  39. 39 CarlosK
    June 20, 2008 at 18:29

    Hi WHYSayers

    If by Western lifestyle we mean unabashed and unencumbered consumerism. Then the answer is no. Because at the rate we are consuming, in a few years there will be worldwide a famine. Not only of food but other perishable goods.

    But despite all its warts the Western Lifestyle of freedom of expression is something worth celebrating.

    What I admire most about the western lifestyle is Democracy. This for me covers the multitutude of sins embedded in the Western lifestyle. The right to vote. One man one vote. Same man same vote is powerful. Its empowering.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  40. 40 Mike in Portland
    June 20, 2008 at 18:31

    Simply stated, the isolation you experience among the white culture in the United States is due to white people not trusting each other. I don’t know where the distrust came from, but I’ve been aware of it since my high school days in the late ’60’s. Any ideas? Mike

  41. June 20, 2008 at 18:32

    There is nothing wrong in taking the best of western lifestyle. But it will be better to be true to one’s roots. In the West, there are large communities of immigrants who stick to their culture in term of conducting their daily lives like cooking and socializing.

    The world will be boring without multiculturalism. Western lifestyle should be part of it to offer diversity. People in the West can have something to learn from other cultures. Other cultures should not be just a Western tourist attraction or materials for movies and TV documentaries.

    There are some people from the West who migrate to developing countries in appreciation for their culture and lifestyle as a break from Western lifestyle.

  42. 42 Philip Hunt of Cleveland, OH
    June 20, 2008 at 18:33

    One shouldn’t throw away all that the Western culture has accomplished just because it is different or because it is ‘white’. Understanding is needed because of all that it has gone through. It fought two world wars, the cold war, the great world depression, and who did we have to look to? To show us or help us grow in a good fashion? History couldn’t show us the way.
    We were the first to be affected by a multitude of new technologies, which what truly defines Western society. Technology is the standard which defines a country as either ‘developing’ or ‘developed’.
    Criticism is needed, yes. Criticism is the second gift Western culture gives to the world. The ability to be transparent and self-evaluating, to acknowledge problems in culture and CHANGE them, without riots and murder. It is taken for granted that we can even speak and write without fear of oppression, a common scenario of many non-western culture.

    I’ll accept Western culture, not because I have to, but because it gives me the choice to.

  43. 43 Braennian
    June 20, 2008 at 18:33

    I think that people are forgetting that Western Lifestyle doesn’t mean a disconnect from your community, but rather that the communities are no longer centralized. As an American, I have a very close knit community but they are spread across the city, versus smaller villages where you live in a more focalized community. We have strong communities, they are just mroe personal and do not necessarily focus on the local neighbors.

  44. 44 Vijay
    June 20, 2008 at 18:33

    There are adequate resources in the world to meet everyones needs,through application of current technology and techniques,the global south should also aspire to consume.

  45. 45 Jitan Chandanani
    June 20, 2008 at 18:36

    I am originally from the so called “developing” nations who aspire for the so called “Western” lifestyle. What the “Developing” nations see is the color and the glamour of the west, none of them understand the effort that the west puts in to maintain that lifestyle.
    The Developing countries keep bragging about their family values and lack of them in the west. Well if the family values of the non-western lifestyles are truly so great then why is it today that the most hatred, terrorism, violence comes from them.
    No wonder the Western people care less about values that cause the above and instead work towards their lifestyles…

  46. 46 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 18:36

    Only an insane person would deliberately emulate the ‘Western Lifestyle’ after a thorough examination.

    Pangolin is right! Kind of like the scene in Blazing Saddles in the church where they decide not to leave the town.

    But seriously, 2 cars Dwight? I do believe if you take a ride to the city of Marin just North of the Golden Gate Bridge you can still find the highest national average of 4 cars per person.

    In the US it would really be something if after 200 years and change the world wanted to emulate us. Perhaps they’ll take an idea or another yes, but they can’t seriously want any of the government, how about a president, you can have him for free, take him, take him, please.

  47. 47 Andrew
    June 20, 2008 at 18:38

    Developed Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, are both highly developed and modern.

  48. 48 Teresa
    June 20, 2008 at 18:40

    I have a unique perspective. I am an American who has become a part of a Tanzania culture living here in Illinois.

    I was shocked by how many times they asked for my help. And they are confused and hurt when I do not ask for help.

    They explained to me that from when they are very, very tiny, children are taught that they have a lot to give to those around them. They learn to GIVE COMPLETELY and to accept from others JUST AS COMPLETELY.

    One father, explained that the word “my is rarely used in Tanzania. His American born daughter, talks about “My teacher” my desk my school. In Tanzania they say, our school, our teacher, our desk.

    My family, in contrast, have raised their children to be as independent as possible, It is considered wrong to ask for anything. If an American asks for a ride or something, it is usually with lowered eyes, and humiliation.

  49. 49 Tommy
    June 20, 2008 at 18:41

    The question is being presented incorrectly, don’t you think? You ask, do developing countries wish model their lives like they do in ‘Western Culture’? It seems that ‘Western Culture’ has as negative a connotation to most people living outside of the ‘West’ as if all westerns participate in a denigrating sort of social extremism. The questions should be ‘would you like to have free and fair elections?’ or ‘would you like your life and liberty be protected by a legitimate constitution?’ ‘would you like to have roads built by your government paid for by taxes’, ‘would you like to feel safe and protected by your country’s military and police force rather than be persecuted by them’ ‘Would you like a job?’ ‘would you like your children to be educated’…..these are the questions that should be asked.

  50. 50 The Spangle Maker
    June 20, 2008 at 18:42

    + I have a lot of gripes with a lot of people, as a matter of fact I know about two people I like! BUT all this nonsense about everyone being so greedy in the west and riding around in multiple automobiles at once, is ridiculous. People in the west were not just motivated by greed there, is nothing inherently wrong with them versus people in other places. They are simply in a place where these things are possible. Most people placed within these circumstances would act the same. These broad generalizations about the west are xenophobic.

  51. 51 Chelsea
    June 20, 2008 at 18:44

    Many of the people on air have commented that their cultures have adopted many Western influences but the West has ignored their cultures. My question is, what are some concrete examples of parts of other cultures that the West has ignored?

  52. 52 Jeff in Portland, Oregon
    June 20, 2008 at 18:45

    First off – this is a great discussion topic, but I don’t think there is anything we can do to change the dreams of two-thirds of the world.

    Having said that, I will identify myself. I’m an American. I’ve always been upper-middle-class, and I’ve lived in the paradise of the pacific west coast my entire life – San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle.

    I believe the people in the culture I’ve lived in (west coast, usa) are primarily concerned with going about their business without having to notice anyone else.
    I despise this, but I have also benefitted from it.

    Everything in our culture is based around preserving isolation and not seeing other people. Gated communities, cars, fences, membership fees, mp3 players, earphones, online shopping, street-sitting laws. Everything is built around preserving this little space that is mine, not having to walk in the real world, and hiding people who are less fortunate.

    It’s ironic that developing nations aspire to a way of life which is rooted in ignoring other people – specifically the less fortunate and developing nations.

    You can’t be a happy capitalist and believe wholeheartedly in competition unless you put the blinders on.

  53. 53 Will Rhodes
    June 20, 2008 at 18:46

    I know the British were the first to invent bathing in the ocean(reference needed, some King started his holidays on the coast and enjoyed the beneficial effects of the salty water on his dirty bum)

    Joey, LOL


  54. 54 jade
    June 20, 2008 at 18:46

    technology can be de-humanizing. in software design, one of the requirements is to anticipate user’s needs and preferences. if we are smart, we will provide a “one-click” interface, so a user does not need to think. the system should be as automatic as possible. using too many of these tools in the long run can make people go on auto-cruise. convenience and speed do not train us to be alert, to be reflective.

  55. 55 Bjay via text
    June 20, 2008 at 18:48

    Ye! Westen life style: I can’t get no satisfaction or rolling stone. When they say repent I don’ know what they ment.

  56. 56 Hana in Prague
    June 20, 2008 at 18:49

    Mary Robinson, THANK YOU – there’s no excuse for limiting a.k.a. violating human rights.

  57. 57 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 18:50


    Yes there is definitely too broad of a generalization here, first off they’re trying to lump Britain in with the US and that’s just impossible (the word cabbie comes up as misspelled for crying out loud). For some reason WHYS decided to rush both these topics because each one on air today is rather unfairly categorized.

  58. 58 Joey
    June 20, 2008 at 18:51

    Someone mentioned the “world” is no more but is now a global village.

    This show should be renamed, Let the People have their Say.
    The “world” is a loaded term that people can’t get away from in their conversations. Thank you.

    under 30 years old, USA

  59. 59 Mason - Park City, Utah
    June 20, 2008 at 18:51

    The Western Lifestyle is very wasteful, even those of us who try to live responsible lives still find ourselves consuming in excess for those items that are deemed “necessary”…

    the glorification of wealth and power over happiness is not a good, but freedom of speech, freedom of religion (as a concept, no matter how under attack it is by Extremist Christians in the US), are good concepts…

    the speaker in the studio that said that the West allows to much tolerance for homosexuals and sex and violence on TV and movies is expressing a view that limits freedoms, freedom has its down side, you have to allow people to speak or express themselves, whether you like what they say or not….

    I would ask him what does it matter if the guy down the street is a homosexual? 

    Western society, at its core, allows individuals to make choices as to who they befriend and associate with, in practice, sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but usually when it doesn’t there is ignorance and prejudice that causes people to judge people based on their outside appearance without finding out about that person. 

    I tell my 6 year old son almost everyday, it doesn’t matter what color a person is, or where they came from, or what language they speak, or who they choose to love, it matters what kind of person they are: do they treat people fairly?, do they help people?: each and every person needs to be seen as just that, a person…some are bad, some are good.

  60. 60 Nick - Minneapolis, US
    June 20, 2008 at 18:53

    I don’t think the real divide is between Western lifestyle and Eastern, but between Urban and Rural, Affluent and non-affluent, and many others. Reality is much more complicated

  61. 61 Scott - PORTLAND
    June 20, 2008 at 18:54

    I have a lot of gripes with a lot of people, as a matter of fact I know about two people I like! BUT all this nonsense about everyone being so greedy in the west and riding around in multiple automobiles at once, is ridiculous. People in the west were not just motivated by greed, there is nothing inherently wrong with them versus people in other places. They are simply in a place where these things are possible. Most people placed within these circumstances would act the same. These broad generalizations about the west are xenophobic.

  62. 62 kweku
    June 20, 2008 at 18:54

    The development of Humanity is to develop universal perspective yet maintain indigenous social cultural identity….

    from Ghana, Accra

  63. 63 Sunny D - Canada
    June 20, 2008 at 18:55

    Now there is a food and energy crisis due to western greed, yes I do think it is bleeding into the East in a negative way. When I lived in India the children had the idea of being western was to wear skimpy clothing, and have boyfiends and shun any family values, when i lived in China they seem to think drugs, rap and fast food is the what the west is about…..

    I was born in England and feel it was a stonger sence of community in England which embraced more of ones culture than here in canada.

    The west has given the east nothing of spiritual or moral value just superficial views and consumerism, which it is quite upsetting to see eastern children confusing for how one would become more modern and efficient.

    The self sufficient values are stronly required now and many people are reverting back to them, so in a way the east is being led away from it’s roots and misguided by media and western influence.

    I wish the East would do more to protect itself, is it any wonder so many countires like China kept foreign people out for so long, now its fallin pray to diluted culture.

    India’s culture has been bastardized from its original vlaues since colonialism and only in the villages do you see the real life, using the land and natural sources in harmony not raping mother earth

  64. 64 Sunny D - Canada
    June 20, 2008 at 18:56

    Freedom is a farce, freedom in the western sence is empty rights people think they have which are leading them to self destructive society….

    Eastern culture and values where they are strong make sure they try to hold community together and in the end money cant buy you the peace of mind the west does not have.

    someone said to me when he looks to the streets he sees only white people no minority people this is because the minorities look after one another in their society. he was white by the way

  65. 65 Bjay via text
    June 20, 2008 at 18:56

    Very simply. Freedom of expresion! Take to the bank!

  66. June 20, 2008 at 18:58

    hi, im from Zim and when we talk about the issue of developing countries taking up western cultures, i think we are missing the point. In Zim we have pumped water, internet and almost everything the west has. So i think technology has nothing to do with it.

  67. 67 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 19:02

    Right, you cannot idealize an entire society, there are just too many flaws, take GW for instance. To be a little more fair: there are more flaws in any one leader of any country than you could wish upon the rest of the world. It really already is having a corrupt influence in Zimbabwe for instance, they supposedly have a Democracy but a leader in power for 28 years is hardly still just a democratic leader. In many ways the West becomes an excuse for other countries and leaders to partially emulate one system or another but manage to manipulate it to their own advantage. Both Afghanistan and Iraq are prime examples of Western Democracy failing. For as much force as the US has used we can’t keep our system in place without it becoming corrupt. There’s little belief that a truly democratic system will be in place for some years to come in those places and it may be that they take on certain corrupt provisions as part of the permanent governments.

  68. June 20, 2008 at 19:03

    its me again…i live in Germany at the moment and i think that europe seriously has something to learn ffrom Africa….when i sit in the tram with my friends….we seem to make the most noise with our conversation and laughter, and the funny thing is we are probably the poorest people in that train and yet they have all they could ask for and still choose to behave like people going to a funeral, or listen to their i-pods. We all have i-pods but it doesn`t stop us from cathcing up with each other or just having a chat.

  69. 69 Gboko in Nigeria.
    June 20, 2008 at 19:13

    Teenage pregenacy is child abuse and must be avoided.

  70. 70 Tom D Ford
    June 20, 2008 at 19:27

    I heard that the Aborigines of Australia living in their northwest territories work two hours a day to take care of all of their needs and then have the rest of their day to hang out with their family and friends and do whatever they want.

  71. 71 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 19:42

    Hi Stacey, when you say Zim do you mean S. Africa? I had to google that to find out so perhaps you could enlighten us who aren’t in the know.

  72. 72 victork13
    June 20, 2008 at 20:06

    The yearning for the primitive is a disease of the civilised.

    It’s easy to long for the spiritual wisdom of the East, the spontaneity and joy of Africa, and the full and truer life of the Australian aborigine from the comfort and safety of a culture of modern conveniences and order. Yet it’s not to the East, or to Africa or even to the Australian outback that people are emigrating by the million,: it’s to the West.

    A single immigrant is worth a thousand Westerners looking at the rest of the world with rose-tinted spectacles.

  73. 73 Shirley
    June 20, 2008 at 20:44

    I honestly believe that the West breeds a culture of death with the lifestyle that typifies it. We are a very materialistic society. As Ros said, one of the measures of success here is how much money a person can have. I would go a bit beyond that and say that a measure of success in the West is how much wealth one has accumulated. I am honestly not sure that most of our wealth in the West has been obtained through pure sweat equity. The wealthiest among us invested money in interest-bearing accounts, which I as a Shia Muslim view as a terrible sin second only to murder. Or we invested in stocks, another object of ban in Islam. Real investments have been another source of wealth amongst wealthy Westerners; and considering the bursting of the real estate bubble and its effects on those pursuing the “American dream,” I would add that to the list of woes with which we aggrieve our Prophets. Owners of corporations aggrandise their accumulation of wealth on the bloodied and sweaty backs of blue-collar labourers who have to fight tooth and nail against wage slashings with bosses who threaten to move their jobs to China and Mexico if they refuse to work for humiliatingly low wages and less benefits. Corporation owners befriend politicians with campaign favours and turn to collect from their politician buddies once those buddies have been elected. The general populace is left to deal with loose restrictions on emissions that cause cancer, asthma, and other illnesses, and the destruction of natural habitats and ecological systems that would otherwise have supported a self-sustaining lifestyle. Our policymakers play with the value of our currency and those commodities that are our vital necessities so that they and their buddies can increase their wealth and power. And while all of this is occurring, the corporations that sell products useful and useless to us proseltyise to us a lifestyle of accumulation of objects so that our money lubricates the gears of their economic machine to the point that we forget that bread is made of ripe grass seeds, yeast, and dried cane juice or processed beets. We have not progressed. We have gone backwards from a people who cultivated plants and hunted animal, processed their own crops, and cooked with it to a people who would not have a clue what to do without a grocery store. We acquire our wealth and our goods at the expense of others who cannot even earn a living. And we fall for the lies told us by our politicians regarding the so-called necessity of the destruction of the very ecosystems that provide us with air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, fiber with which to clothe ourselves, and planks with which to shelter ourselves. This is why I think that the West promotes a culture of death. We are killing each other and our planet so that we can obtain status symbols or enjoy the comforts of sitting around lazily while others do the hard work of provide our basic necessities.

  74. 74 K MJUMBE
    June 20, 2008 at 21:00

    western society and its multi-faceted lifestyle[s] has been for the last one thousand years a nefarious, cancer on the planet as a whole. In fact, i would argue that those western societies who have spread such diaster on the planet should be brought before the tribunal in the Hague [and that might just include the Hague itself for the Dutch evils in indonesia, carribbean and africa]. there is fundamental need to re-evaluate how “society” is defined and by whose parametres.

    western social constructs with their drive towards personal profit/gains contra gains for the whole of society is anti-social at its core. it stems from the simple things like intellectual property rights to xenophobia and jingoistic tendencies to denigrate other cultural practices and perspective that those in the western cannot comprehend due to their limited knowledge. Proof of that is this recent device called the internet. the developers of this forum rushed headlong with delirium in filing patent after patent..trademark after trademark for bits and pieces of the core structure but know of them foresaw that the imposition of the architecture structure was limited [and so too the market for it] by the limited infrastructure of electrical powder grids and telecommunication lines/infrastructure. Looking at a satellite photograph of the earth at night in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 one could clearly see the limits to the internet but that didnt stop the headlong rush off the cliff. Now we have these platforms like myspace and facebook when one is suppose to relate but not in physical person to person form. Is that really a relationship? I think not for we all now know what you see on the computer monitor may not be what is typing behind the keyboard. The internet is highly anti-social and is even limited by mininal languages in its research capacity. In the computerised work office, blobs of humans waste countless number of hours answering email communications that in the final analysis resolve nothing and diminish overall productivity in getting core tasks done.

    Mobile telephones are just as egregious. in the western environment, one cannot go anywhere not even the loo without someone flip on and off their clamshell StarTrek devices but not being beamed away. Since when did humans becoming addicted to chatting for chatting sake. Even parrots do not do that! I will be glad when these things reach the point of becoming surgically implanted so that folks can watch where they are going contra currently walking whilst talking to the palm of their hand and not paying attention. I am at the point of pushing for no-mobile zones on urban rail commuter cars for those of us who desire some quiet time. Mobiles are good is some environs. I like the advancement of Africans being able to send MPesa and monitor commodity crop prices or the south Koreans and Japanese capacity to purchase show tickets, use their mobile for getting plane boarding passes, etc. But other than those rare instances it is a waste.

    A telephone call in from a Shawn in the usa shows demonstrates clearly how technology does not relief a social order of systemic ignorance on a massive scale. The fact that the architecture of the internet was spawned in the west and yet the populace of the west is highly globally ignorance and xenophobia is rather telling in and of itself. Now, imagine if all these ignorant folks are on line blogging and myspaceing pages upon pages of archive cyber junk that is never deleted nor corrected as long as the hosting server is in tact. You can see the dilemma. This call in represented the fact that the author [as with most white western males] have this innate fear of the rising tide of black, brown and yellow populaces due to birth rate statistics. But to have such a forum as the internet and not be aware of the socialistic, egalitarian societies of Asia, Latin Americas and Africa were true so-called democratic principles were the order of the days some three-seven thousands ago is ludicious in the face of being so-called technological advanced. Have the western lunatics taken over the cyber asylum or does the xenophobia and jingoism of the western cultural norm make such commentary valid?

    I recall living in Espana for a period of six month in the late 1980s. I was shocked to learn then that most Espanol males only bathed once a week but doused themselves daily with cologne. Hygienic? not to my daily bath African mindset. History will show that Africans were instrumental in teaching bathing to Arabs who took it across the sahara to arabia and it got incorporated into islam and then when the moors came to the iberia peninsula, european got to bathing. Given such historical contours what really has the western lifestyle to offer to humanity betterment?

  75. 75 Shirley
    June 20, 2008 at 21:21


  76. 76 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 21:28

    Are you sure? Is that shorthand I haven’t heard it before.

  77. June 20, 2008 at 22:13

    @ victork 13,

    While I do not share your apparent prejudices insofar as your characterisation of Easterners as “primitive”, I do however foresee a value in extending a point implied by your entry above. Taking what you have said in relation to other entries here (including one of your earlier ones), it would seem to me that there is a significant difference between economic growth, hard work and “aspirations” and the actual institutionalisation of “Westernness” as a set of values which are in ascendancy, currently.

    The adoption of the various models of “progress” enshrined in the narratives of Democracy and Free Market Capitalism as they are generally extolled, do not effectively capture the nuance, range and or extension of the complexities involved insofar as their lived application in specific contexts. Democracy, by this token then, is effectively a culturally conditioned set of ideals that are largely very subjective. Way beyond the question of voting rights and privileges and the empowerment of electorates to organise governments and facilitate leaders, democracy also adopts the features of the communities/ societies in which it is instituted. Clean air, water and good roads, etc. would be available, as a result in greater or lesser degrees based on where one stands in relation to this.

    In that regard, even in the case of Japan, which as one of your earlier entries attested, has adopted “Westerness” I would beg to defer insofar as there are distinct elements about Japanese (political) culture which mark it as uniquely Japanese. This does not invalidate Japan’s committment to values of hard work and discipline, etc. Rather, it makes the point that free market capitalism and democracy in countries like Japan and others ( in the East, etc.) have been grown in ways which are specific to them.

    There is no getting around the evolution of Free Market Capitalism and its relationship to the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe, specifically, and before that Mercantilism and Slavery. However, like its twin sister Nationalism, these ideas are manifested in ways which are unique to the cultures/ societies who use them to their own advantage in the modern age. The extent to which these ideas are manifested, therefore, is dependent on the length of time and the perceived value and effectiveness of their usage, historically.

    I am not so sure, therefore, whether the virtues of hard work, etc. are, necessarilly, unique features of a Western intellectual model. Or, that in the instances where these ideas have been and are appropriated in specific ways and areas that such communities/ societies have not also impacted the constructions of Democracy (Capital D), etc. Japan, I believe, has managed to maintain key elements of its traditional culture notwithstanding the gains made through the application of Democracy and Free Market Capitalsim, among others, currently. Your definition of “Civilisation” implied above would, therefore, have to be expanded to capture the full range of available meanings in this regard. No?

  78. 78 Shirley
    June 20, 2008 at 22:56

    I am sure. I have seen it used that way on the Zimbabwe threads.

  79. 79 Zak
    June 20, 2008 at 23:27

    A corrupted capitalist system is in example in Andrei Nekrasov’s film “Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File”. I have heard from the maker just now but have not seen the film.

    However Litvinenko knew the corrupt dealings of the Russian KSB, formerly KGB, agents and described the dealings of them and their bosses as a mafioso, mega corrupt system. The friendship of the film maker with his subject has cast him as an enemy of the State in Moscow.

    Despite all this, Russia and the new President, Medvedev has claimed to be a Democracy using a capitalist system yet it’s almost no secret that Putin ensured his successor, and that he would still be in power. Litvinenko had the view that Putin was benefiting from the Western conflict in Iraq, and from the higher oil prices, and that Russia is now showing a great deal of impunity to the West.

    That is the problem with spreading Western Democracy.

  80. June 20, 2008 at 23:48

    Each culture has its good and bad. I live in the West although I am originally from the third world.

    I think there are aspects of the third world western countries should copy and integrate as part of public policy and also as part of the culture. Some of these aspects are:

    1) Sense of community which does not exist in the West. I live in a mixed neighborhood where I am more interested in knowing who my neighbors are than they are. Hilary Clinton’s African adage of “It takes a village” really should be espoused in the West.

    2) Caring for the elderly. Western mentality has it that the new is better than the old. Unfortunately this is not always true. Africans believe in caring for the elders who live amongst them to share wisdom and knowledge. There is an African adage that says “an old person who dies is a library that burns”.

    3)The West is just too materialistic for its own good. There are other values in life that are as important as having plenty of money. I think it is a reflection of the morally decadent western society. One should look at the declining strength of the Church which used to be one of the great assets and pilars of the western cultures.

    4)A limited and inadequate model of development which did not forsee global warming and environmental disasters coming as a result of the salvage capitalism.

    Of course there are also good things in the West, such as:

    1) Accountability at the state level. Third world countries could learn about better methods of goverment from the west.

    2) Acceptance of opposing views.

    3) Working towards the common good.

    4) Intellectual independence.

    Just to name a few.

  81. 81 Shirley
    June 21, 2008 at 00:14

    Zak, are you implying that when a Western country spreads its democracy, it maintains the same corrupt nepotism and dynastic tyrrany and only changes the name to “democracy”?

  82. 82 Zak
    June 21, 2008 at 00:27

    That’s twisting my words a bit. You can look above

    Basically I’m saying that unless governments truly have the will to become a Democracy, Ghana, Nepal for instance then most often what happens is, if they do take the name, it’s still the same brand of Oligarchy it once was. But there’s more in this on the blank page that deals with that movie I referenced beyond just the East vs. West so I’d like to expand it some too.

  83. 83 Tom
    June 21, 2008 at 03:10

    @ Jade,

    “your Japanese example shows wholesale adoption of a lifestyle can be stupid, and a strong culture knows what to adopt and what to retain.

    when immigrants moves to an adopted country, they had to make a decision whether to keep their own culture or follow the main stream culture, and shed their identities. some children live a double life: one at home and one in schools.”

    My example of Japan is to highlight how a unique culture is open enough to complement the best of other cultures with the best of its own culture. Now how could that be stupid? I see that a sign of strength and wisdom within that culture.

    What I disagree with is to term a distinctly non-European culture as being “western” just because it has adopted aspects of western values. It bears a mindset that “western culture” is the only path to civility, which is clearly not the case.

    Japan is still Japanese. Just as Taiwanese is still Taiwanese and Korean is still Korean.

  84. 84 Tom
    June 21, 2008 at 03:19

    In regards to the double life of children of immigrants, it’s a privilege of these second generations to be able to growing up and be exposed to aspescts of both their native and adopted cultures. In time they will be able to form bridges between these cultures and be in position to improve upon them

  85. 85 Shakhoor Rehman
    June 21, 2008 at 11:50

    An intellectual lifestyle would be a good idea.

  86. 86 Sanae
    June 21, 2008 at 14:40

    I am not sure about the definition of a ‘Western lifestyle’. But, the so-called ‘Western culture’ has both wonderful and disappointing aspects, just like any other culture. I live in Japan, a country which has been seemingly successful in Westernisation. Japanese have enjoyed Western materialism but now face the problems of increasing obesity, excessive consumption of energy and resources, etc. These are the same reality many Western nations have to deal with. That is regrettable. However, I think one of the most remarkable things about Western values is humanitarianism. I wish it had taken root in Japan as well.

  87. 87 Shirley
    June 21, 2008 at 14:42

    Thank you for pointing above. It clarifies your views nicely.

  88. 88 Mark
    June 22, 2008 at 08:13

    I know what the Western lifestyle is and I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want it. It’s about having what you want when you want it. Fresh food that isn’t tainted because you have a refrigerator. The ability to be continually informed and entertained because you have a television set. The ability to communicate with anyone because you have a telephone. The ability to have access to information of any kind at your fingertips and use it because you have a computer and access to the internet. The ability to be comfortable in your own home and wherever you go because you have heating and air conditioning. The ability to go where you want when you want because you have a car and access to public transportation. The ability to develop yourself because you have access to a fair and objective education whose goal is to educate you to think for yourself, not to indoctrinate you into a religion or political philosophy. The ability to be free from disease because you have access to modern medicine. Even those who would deny it to others, al Qaeda for example use cell phones and computers to achieve their goal of returning the world to primitive times.

    Why must those in the developing world make sacrifices to reduce global warming? Because if everyone doesn’t make sacrifices no one will. I will not live worse so that you can live better. I am not interested in everyone in the world living at an equal level if it means my standard of living has to go down so others can go up. Besides, if those in the developed world do not continue to provide the world with enough of what it needs like food, medicine, manufactured goods because its own self imposed restrictions prevent it from doing that, the developing world doesn’t stand a chance. It is a simple fact that those in the developed world are far more efficient at producing what the developed world wants and needs than they are themselves and if its economies are slowed by global warming treaties on carbon footprint, the developing world will feel the impact very sharply.

  89. 89 Dennis
    June 22, 2008 at 15:36

    The whole Western lifestyle is the for a short-amount of time….

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  90. 90 Tom
    June 23, 2008 at 01:52

    Mark, what you’ve mentioned are the best of western lifestyle. Yes, the rest of the world may do well striving for them. These however are not the complete package of the western lifestyle. If you take into account the negative aspects of western lifestyle, which I have briefly outlined on my first post, you’d then understand why there are people in other parts of the world who’d feel apprehensive toward adopting all things western. Even the positive aspects you mentioned have their own costs on society and the environment.

    In regards to the ability to be continually informed and “entertained” by TV and the internet, I’m deeply concerned with the uncontrolled proliferation of violent, hateful and pornographic materials which our youths are constantly being exposed to. This is one example of the ills of western society. Unfortunately because of the globalising nature of media, these materials are being proliferated to and mimicked by all parts of the world.

    I’m not saying that the west are to be blamed for this, but rather it’s a cost of this type of free lifestyle where ever it is adopted.

  91. June 24, 2008 at 09:25

    oh my god ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    why we inspire to something which is rubbish .
    we all now that western are develped community but at the same they left their culture ,the way they behave now is something unacceptable.
    world is changing, western change it but we all sure the ather community especially Africa will never get the stability and the modern civilization western have becouse they will never accept that , they will just pull them in to dark and just let them take bad behaviours they were having and that they planted in Africa and they will led africa to sing and play games .
    and other fight .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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