Escalator (Photo: Tomislav Miletic/PIXSELL) Escalator (Photo: Tomislav Miletic/PIXSELL)

I've personally been lucky enough to have lived in many different countries around the world, and they all provide their own unique charms and insights into how their societies function. 

I saw a video recently on YouTube about mindfulness in Japan. Although I’ve never been to Japan, I’ve spoken endlessly about Japanese society with my best friend from childhood who moved there about fifteen years ago. 

Basically, despite their huge population - including nearly 38 million people in the Tokyo metropolitan area—Japan is extremely clean, polite, and safe. 

Croatia is also extremely safe (the safest country I’ve ever lived in). And for the most part, it’s very clean too (besides cigarette butts - we’ll get to that at another time). But polite or unselfish? Not so much. 

This lack of politeness, and general lack of mindfulness for others, leads to unnecessary logjams on escalators (it's simple: walk on the left, stand on the right), a disregard for order and respect for lineups in stores, double-parking (including stopping one's car in the middle of the road for sheer personal convenience), speaking on the phone or texting whilst driving or walking, and getting on or off the tram. 

Things are getting better in Croatia as the younger generations take over the service industry - including cafes and restaurants. Also, Classical nightmares of Croatian bureaucracy (police stations, tax and municipal offices) are not so bad anymore - I've seen great strides in only the past couple of years. 

At the same time, Croatians are the most generous people I've come across, with both their time and money. So it's definitely in them to think of others, but it seems like they feel much less obligated to showing kindness to society as a whole. In public, they like to remain anonymous, blend in, and not bring too much attention to themselves. They walk around with scowls on their faces and think only of their own individual comfort. 

It's a problem that I think can easily be solved. But it's only able to get solved if there is an acknowledgement that it's an actual problem.  

P.S. The title of this post is taken from the name of a punk rock group from California.