Website owner: James Miller
When Americans go to some third world country, some Latin American country for example, and see people living in one- room, thatched huts they are shocked. It is so completely alien to anything they have ever seen. They think "What desperate poverty! How terrible! These poor people!" For an American it is a real culture shock. But what the American doesn't appreciate is that probably 75% of the people in the world live in this same way. Think of all the people in the world who live in India, China, southeast Asia, Africa, South America, all of the third world countries. In all these countries the most of the people live in one or two room houses with no electricity or running water; no indoor toilets; no bathtubs, showers, electric ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers, telephones, etc.. These houses don't have the lovely interiors and the modern kitchens and bathrooms that one finds in America and there are no automobiles parked outside and no supermarkets or shopping malls nearby. In fact, a very typical house in the third world is probably 8 foot by 12 foot with mud brick, mud wattle or flattened-bamboo walls, a packed earth floor, a clay tile, corrugated metal or thatched roof and few or no windows. There is no heating system and cooking is done either inside or outside the dwelling on a three stone fire or on an elementary wood, coal, charcoal or kerosene stove. There are no toilet facilities either inside or outside the dwelling. Water is fetched from some source some distance away and one of the occupants of the dwelling (possibly a child) will spend two or three hours a day scrounging for enough firewood for the day. This is the way of life for countless millions today, probably the most of the world's people. When the American sees these primitive third world houses and the primitive lifestyle that they imply he probably doesn't really realize that this is the mode of life for most of the world. Nor does he stop and realize that this very way of living, this lifestyle of the one-room house with no electricity, running water or modern conveniences, is the way the vast bulk of mankind has lived for thousands and thousands of years. This is the way the masses lived back in ancient times. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Assyrians, Chinese, Indians, etc. all lived this same way. The construction materials and the way they built their houses may have differed from one place to another but their basic lifestyle was the same. None of them had electricity, running water, refrigerators, televisions, telephones or supermarkets. They had to go to a well or some water source to fetch their water, they had to wash their clothes on some stones in a creek, they had to prepare their meals from scratch and cook them on some rudimentary wood stove or fire. There were no toilet facilities like we have today. That is the way the ancients lived and that is the way the masses of humanity have lived all through the ages. The modern lifestyle of the three bedroom house with hot and cold running water, electricity, and all the modern conveniences is a thing of only the last seventy five years. And then it has only appeared as a way of life of the masses in the advanced industrialized societies. The most of the modern conveniences hadn't even been invented a hundred years ago. Thus when one looks at things in perspective one realizes that it is not the one-room, thatched hut in India or Ecuador that is the oddity. The real oddity and amazing thing is the millions and millions of three and four bedroom houses up here in the United States with all the modern, plush luxuries and two cars out in front. The real wonder is the millions and millions of Americans who all live like kings, each in his own palace. That is the real wonder. Those living in the one-room hut in Ecuador are just living in the way that has been the norm for the common man throughout the ages. Many billions of people have lived out their lives in that same way with no thought that they were living in poverty or that they were even poor. Even in the matter of food the Indians living in the one-room hut in Ecuador probably eat about as the common man has probably eaten throughout the ages --- a diet consisting mostly of cereal grains, roots and vegetables and a relatively small amount of meat. It is only in modern America where people think it is necessary to have plenty of meat and all the tender delicacies of a king every day. Modern houses cost a lot of money. Most of that cost is the cost of luxury. For example, modern flooring is expensive. One can spend thousands of dollars just installing a new floor covering. Foundations, flooring systems and flooring constitute a big part of the cost of a modern house. The following is from a 1973 World Book article on flooring: "The first floors were probably only the leveled dirt of the land over which the house was built. For hundreds of years the houses of poor people continued to have only dirt floors. The log cabins of early American pioneers usually had dirt floors." The function of a house is to provide protection from the elements. Some kind of protection from the elements is essential in most places where people live. Some sort of house is a necessity in most places. Living in a log cabin with a dirt floor is living at a very basic level. But when we add a floor, we are getting into luxury. What function does a floor serve? Why do we need it? A floor is not a necessity, it is a luxury. Feb 1984 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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