The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

Living in an Amusement Park

For me, Israel is one of the greatest places on earth. I go there whenever I can. Not only does the country have all of its religious history but it is also a beautiful place inhabited (for the most part) by very nice, beautiful people.

Certainly, Jerusalem is a great place. Particularly, walking through the streets of the Old City takes you back in time. You are touching the history of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith. Plus, it is beautiful. My recommendation is go there very early in the morning before the crowds hit the streets when walking there can be a true revelatory experience.

All this being said, what a good percentage of the people who visit the Old City either do not think about or do not understand is that people live there. Yes, in some ways, it is a tourist attraction (an amusement park as it is bound by large stone walls) but people also live there. It is their home. So, though locals shop in the Old City all the time, there are businesses, cafes, and souvenir shops in association with holy shire but look upstairs and there are apartments that are the homes of many-many people. You are walking in their backyard.

The last time I was there I had kind of an interesting experience. I was at an elevated location and looking onto the Wailing Wall and out across the city of Jerusalem when I started hearing someone saying in the background, “You’re not suppose to be here.” This went on for a few moments in association with some other comments. Then, he finishes, “Just making a joke.” What the concealed voice turned out to be was some teenager and his friend talking at me from the window of their apartment in the Jewish Quarter. Though the kid was joking, I totally got it. There we were in his backyard. People probably walk through there all the time. Most, I would guess, do not explore the hidden depths of the city in the manner that I do but I am sure that it is not uncommon to see people that he did not know walking in the area that he calls home. I was invading his space. I get it.

From my own perspective, I too have lived in tourist attraction for much of my life. I grew up in Hollywood, which is a tourist attracting onto itself. But, as long as you are not on Hollywood Blvd. in the heart of Hollywood, or on the Sunset Strip, you are more or less protected. I’ve also chosen to live adjacent to the beach for much of my adult life. People pile in from everywhere all the time. From this, they can really shape your environment: what you see, what you hear, and whom you interact with. So, I am not unaware of what my and/or anyone else’s presence can mean when I enter a space that is not my own.

In terms of locations like the Old City of Jerusalem and the beach, I am speaking of very obvious circumstances. But, is it any different wherever you or anyone else travels? Do you even think about the impact you are having on where you go?

Recently, due to all of the rain we had this year, there was this intense bloom of poppies in this one region of So. Cal. Everyone was going there to take Selfies and have pro photographers take their headshots and family shots. The problem was, the minute someone stepped out into the field, they killed the poppies. At first the Rangers who worked the area tried to stop the people, telling them to stay on the trail. But then, the crowds became intense. On the news they would show the literally miles of cars trying to get off of the freeway to go play in the field. News crews would interview people about the fact that by stepping in the field they were killing the poppies but each person would have their own excuse. But, an excuse is just that, an excuse. These people were going somewhere and altering that somewhere all based upon their own motivations. Is that right?

So, this is just something for you to think about. …To think about anytime you go anywhere. Wherever you go, you are entering into someone else’s home and just because you see it as an amusement park does not mean that your impact is not having an effect on the people that actually live there.

Think about the other person before you act. Think about nature, think about life because everything we do is interactive. Everything we choose to do affects someone and something else.