Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why I choose to live in Spain

Here are just a few reasons:

Unlike Australia for example, Spain has a strong history (and a lively culture today) of political and intellectual debate.

Those who use words as their business (including writers and media figures) are generally well-respected.

While, it is true that some of the debate of current issues can be predictably rigid along ideological lines, the fact that a healthy public discussion exists at all means that people (including the young) can and do become active in local movements and organisations.

The pride that so many adults and children have of their town and region means that they often take an active interest in defending it and being part of its collective life.

A lot less Spaniards move away from their home area than say, North Americans, which creates bonds of attachment to the people and places of they grew up with. In other words, adults and younger people “know their roots” here and have a fundamental respect for them.

Related to this point above is the fact that in Spain there are plenty of public open spaces that are not there just to be commercial.

The plazas are not shopping centres and the ramblas are not principally designed for trade. The parks are many and they are not “retail parks” for buying and selling.

The town square is not a “mall” but is instead reserved for festivals or protests.

All these places are for idling, strolling, gathering and talking, socializing and playing. They are social by their nature and they function as spaces for community activities rather than for simply spending money.

To someone like myself who grew up with the focal point of young life being a multi-storey shopping center, I am happy to know that my son and his friends (plus the students I teach) will not be spending their free time sitting around in a place where everyone is first and foremost a consumer.

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