Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Other Holy Land. No matter how you say it, Jordan evokes images of the ancient and beautiful. Modern cities and ancient ruins coexist in harmony, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Look around the Arab World. Can you find a more beautiful landscape? Can you find friendlier, more hospitable people? I don’t think so. Yet, there is a blight on this country. It is noticed and commented on by visitors. That blight is litter.
I’ve commented on it and questioned people about it over the past ten years. The answers are frustrating. The most frustrating, to me, is the one that says “I’m doing this because it keeps people in a job”! Really? It keeps people in a job? There isn’t enough sand and soil in the gutters to keep the street sweepers busy? It’s quite possibly one of the lamest answers I’ve heard yet.
“Look around you! Everyone else does it, why should I be different?” It’s true. Litter seems to act as a magnet. If you see one of the ever-present plastic bags on the ground, you see no reason not to provide it with a bit of company. Another bag, perhaps, or a water bottle or empty cigarette packet.
Travel any street or road and you will see thousands of the plastic bags from the shops and supermarkets. They are so pervasive, I’ve recently begun to call them the “national bird of Jordan” because they are to be seen on fences, in trees and gently floating through the air. Just a day or two ago one was caught on my outside rearview mirror as we traveled on the Desert Highway.
I’ve visited a great many homes and ridden in a lot of cars here in Jordan. I can tell you this from my own experience; all of them were immaculately clean and neat! So, why do we keep our homes and cars so impeccably clean and trash the environment in which they stand, and travel?
On more than one occasion I have observed people of all ages and both genders approach the rubbish bin in our street with a bag or two of trash. I say approach, because they don’t generally get nearer than 2 or 3 meters before tossing their bags. Fully 98% of them fall short of the goal and land on the ground. Most times the thin, fragile plastic breaks and the wind takes the trash on a whirlwind tour of the neighborhood. Why?
Every person I’ve met in this wonderful country has proudly welcomed me to Jordan. Their speech and actions demonstrate an astonishing amount of pride in their nation, their history, and their heritage. Yet, a quick glance around shows something else entirely; an indifference to the trash that litters the streets, parks and country-side.
As a foreigner here, I may be overstepping my bounds by posting this rant, but I’ve come to love the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and her people. I think of it as my home, too. I really wish you wouldn’t drop trash in our home!