From waiting in line to buy gas to think about places worth living

Recently, journalist Luu Quang Pho posted on his personal Facebook page a photo he took of a gas station in Tran Quang Khai in February 2003 – 20 years ago. In the photo, there are long and messy lines waiting for their turn to fill up.

In recent days, many newspapers have reported that people are queuing to buy gasoline in many places. Compared to Pho’s photo, the scene is a little different, the motorbikes and cars are also different. Only the people and the messy way of queuing remained unchanged. Reading today’s articles, seeing a photo of Mr. Pho again, I suddenly thought of the legendary verses of poet Tran Ngoc Thu in the song “Provincial road”:

“The old man roamed the buffalo

He is the son of an old man who used to plow.”

Multidimensional - From waiting in line to buy gas, thinking about places worth living

The scene of jostling to buy gasoline. Photo taken in February 2003. Author: Luu Quang Pho

After twenty years, after so many things have changed, it seems that time is stopping at gas stations when the way of queuing is still the same as before, nothing has changed.

Well, excess gasoline, shortage of gasoline, low prices, high prices are the macro story of the Government, of The financial, Ministry of Industry and Trade… I do not abuse the table; I also understand that people’s daily worries are the same at any time, every life, anywhere. But queuing – a very normal behavior – after so many changes in the city where we live – remains the same as before. This made me wonder and think.

People from large to small, there is not a single person who has never had to queue. Queuing for class when going to school, queuing at the entrance of a museum, queuing for check-in for an airplane… In the natural world, queuing is an active, conscious behavior that can be considered as an act of kindness. signal of human civilization. From a mess to a line. George Mikes once said: “An Englishman, even when he stands alone, makes a line”. So, sometimes, just the very small acts – like the way to line up – is a signal through which to see the cultural footprint of an entire community.

We always dream of “liveable cities” – not only materially, but spiritually fulfilled. In other words, it is a cultural person living a cultural life in a space with a full range of cultural institutions.

To do so, much remains to be done.

Multidimensional - From waiting in line to buy gas, thinking about places worth living (Figure 2).

Queuing to buy gasoline in 2022. Photo: Minh Chien/Labour newspaper

2 years ago, when reviewing 5 years of implementation of Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW, dated June 9, 2014 of the 11th Party Central Committee on building and developing culture and people, Vietnam To meet the requirements of the country’s sustainable development, the Politburo discussed and concluded many issues, besides the things that have been done, there are still many concerns: “Building a cultural and value system The standards of Vietnamese people in the period of industrialization, modernization and international integration have not yet achieved the set goals. Morals and lifestyles are worrisomely degraded. The cultural environment has some aspects that are not really healthy. The conservation and promotion of cultural heritage values ​​has not been effective. Languages, scripts, customs, practices and typical cultures of some ethnic minorities are at risk of disappearing. There are few literary and artistic works of high ideological and artistic value. Theory and criticism of literature and art have not yet performed well the function of guiding, adjusting and accompanying the practice of composition. Some guidelines and views stated in the Resolution are slow to be institutionalized; there are no synchronous strategies and solutions to develop and improve the capacity for international integration of culture. The relationship between conservation and development in cultural management has not been harmoniously resolved. The system of cultural institutions has been slowly transformed into an autonomous and socialized mode. The direction of cultural industry development is still slow. The basic characteristics of the culture are “nation, humanity, democracy and science” and the concept of building people with good personality and lifestyle has not been regularly grasped; showed signs of being relaxed in all three environments: family, school and society.”

For many years now, there are two cities in the Central region that have been praised by the whole country as “worth living”. Tourists often tell each other stories: Coming to Da Nang city, if they go the wrong way, they are not too worried about being “forced” by the traffic police; If coming to Hoi An city, visitors do not worry about theft, price catching, do not worry about being “trapped” when entering service facilities … and there are countless other stories that prove the “worth it” living” of a space where people gather, build cultural institutions, and create new cultures through these very institutions.

Obviously, a livable space where there are cultural people is not a pipe dream but it has been and is a reality. People come to Da Nang, Hoi An and many other cities not only to experience tourism, but also to enjoy the atmosphere and nice manners between people.

Creating a livable space is hard work and a lot of work. But we can do it. Just start from being aware of each individual individually – for the sake of the whole community – even when doing small things. Like queuing to buy gasoline so that it is neat, for example.

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