Socialized Smiles Lome Togo Saturday, March 3, 2007
West Africa children smile, jump, frolic, and are just plain happy children, adults have dull eyes, dull faced, and often seem to have lost the smile.
There is a nature, nurture question here for me, where does the happy thought go? I am not sure, but I do know, that Peter Pan needed to have a happy thought or needed to travel into his mind and feelings and find the happy thoughts, then he would smile
Socialization, are people socialized to learn they should not smile? Cities teach people to not smile, there is something about cities that say, you shall not smile. However, what happens to a child when he or she grows up, that one day they decide, I will stop smiling.
There are many adults in West Africa that smile, however there is a many who do not, I am not really thinking about Africa, I am thinking about India or Nepal. If I think of China, I think of Stone Faces, impossible to smile, the face is stone.
I often think or blame the United Nations, and all the NGO, ONG’s for the lack of smiles. There is someone out there telling people they are less than, that life is drudgery, I am sure the African children do not know this, and the India children do not know this, although Indian children learn very faster to not smile.
I am sure there are places where life is drudgery, painful, earmarked where taking a shower or cleaning becomes a half-day task. They will slowly learn to skip the bath and live their lives.
Life is very good in Africa, there is lots of wide open spaces, the place is not crowded, if they banned motorcycles now, it would or could continue to be so. Everything grows easily in the jungle, there is no way to stop it, the loggers have cut down all the trees, therefore a plethora of farm land is available. Food is abundant, except in the desert where someone needs to say, - Excuse me, you are living in the worst place on the planet, will you consider moving down about 5-10 degrees of latitude? -
The happy thought, I experiment with the more jaded persons, I say bonjour until they break, I sometime need to go multiple days and multiple attempts to make them smile. There is a black/white thing here and some of them are not sure they have permission or qualified to say hello to white people. Then again, the white people here do not walk in the streets, and do not roam around saying hello, they tend to drive the SUV, an enforcement of the I am different class system, purchased by money, a good old boys clubs, a country club separation. Buying first class tickets is a kind of tribalism, caste system, or class system, the first estate, where nobody says, - Why do we have a King or Queen? -
A lot of this is because here in Africa I have found my happy thought again, I can smile easy, I can laugh and spontaneous joke and play, I have remember to take my vitamins, life is playful.