A few weeks ago there was an article in the Saturday edition of the newspaper (De Standaard, DS Magazine, Thomas Siffer) that keeps on spinning in my head. The idea was to take literature (in this case ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ (2014) by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami) as a starting point to get to know a country. Several Japanese things might inspire other countries…
1. You don’t see parked cars on Japanese roads. Of course, were do you get the right to litter private property on public roads? You need a car? Make sure you can stall it.
2. Even on busy roads you sometimes don’t find foot or cycle paths. No problem. When you know how to behave as a driver, you don’t need strict separations for all types of road users.
3. In Europe we are free, but we mistakenly interpreted as in ‘we do what we want as an individual’. We push the pedal to the metal, we drink and drive and smartphones behind the wheel are harmless. The 40 000 yearly (direct) roadkills in Europe we take for granted. Japan has implemented the word ‘respect’ in traffic legislation. Not so stupid as an idea… It makes a lot of things possible!
4. You don’t annoy anybody else with your addiction. When you smoke you do it without bothering anyone. How often have I seen European bus shelters hijacked by one guy/girl with a cigaret, while non-smokers have to chose between harsh winds or the exhausts of one’s bad habits? Or otherwise, why has my personal health has to suffer because of someone else’s relentless car addiction?
Maybe the better title for this post would be: ‘Respect! Stop harming others in the name of your own addictions!’