Sunday, January 29, 2006


Yesterday afternoon, Spring seemed to be beckoning and with Spring comes cleaning. The children and I attempted to clean all the trash from our highway frontage. We gathered twelve (55 gallon)bags full of everything imaginable and there is still more. We haven't cleaned all winter, but, even so, this is certainly a terrible display of filth. While we were cleaning, a few people pulled over and joked, "I didn't know you had started working for the county." I, of course, answered, "No, I'm working for myself" and went on to explain that I couldn't enjoy my porch swing if I had to look at all that garbage.

Then, an idea occurred to me. There is so much garbage on the road because people don't take responsibility for their trash. Littering people believe it is alright to litter because they believe the government will clean it. People have abdicated so much responsibility and power to government that they no longer feel responsible for much of anything, including their garbage. Other examples are:
  • Many parents have abdicated the education of their children to the public school system (government). If children aren't educated when they graduate, do the parents feel responsible? Of course not! The schools failed.
  • Care of the elderly, poor and homeless is not an individual or community problem anymore. We don't have to get involved in a Dickensian way because the government will handle it -- no need to take responsibility.

In addition to abdicating responsibility, we have to consider the volume of garbage produced in our throw away society. Eating while riding down the road, out of paper, plastic, and Styrofoam containers is now a way of life. We are churning so fast, that people don't have time to sit down at a table and eat with real silverware, off of real plates. Children have so many plastic floor flinger toys and gadgets that the play things have no value. Our closets are filled with too many clothes. Clothes that are too tight, too hot, too large, too out of style. How can this be better? Would there be so much junk on the side of the road if the things we had had real value?

I wanted to have something profound to say, but my back hurts so much from leaning to gather the trash that I will rely on this quote from Creed or Chaos by Dorothy Sayers:

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.

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