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To the editor:
I can’t say I know the answer to the county’s trash and recycling questions, but there is one facet of the issue that I’m reminded about every day as I walk my dogs, and it makes me very, very sad.
Along with this letter, I’ve sent two pictures to the News. Both were taken on Case Road, on the bank of Hammonds Creek. I walk almost every day in this lovely area, and I see how its beauty has made it a favorite parking spot for teenagers, but how little awareness goes into how it is used. Every few days I find another scattering of litter and trash; recently I picked up 30 beer bottles that had been thrown into the grass. Worse are the adults, especially during hunting season, as they use the area as a dumping ground for deer carcasses.
One photo shows three carcasses (of the six recently dumped there) that were thrown in the creek. During the hunting season last year there were 14 carcasses along the road or in the creek — not left there after hunting kills but hauled in and dumped. The other photo shows a sofa that was recently tipped over the roadside and now hangs over the water, waiting for a soaking rain to weight it down and carry it on into the creek.
Apart from the in-your-face ugliness, the thing that most saddens me on these walks is the thought that so many of our children, seeing these disgusting examples of adult behavior, risk growing up equally ignorant and uncaring, with little understanding or concern for the effects of their actions on others and on the earth. And they, in turn, will lack the ability to instill that understanding in their own children.
As for our treatment of the planet, of which these are small but good examples, well, it seems to be getting the message, and its answer is to show us, through killer storms, droughts and much more, that we need to be thinking beyond the obvious and doing more than what is easiest, most expeditious and most profitable at the moment.
As for the contempt we show for our neighbors by despoiling the space they share with us, unfortunately that is usually done in secrecy, and so there are seldom any repercussions.
The attitude that I think is lacking in both cases is respect. The way we treat our roadside reflects our lack of respect for the planet, just as leaving our trash for our neighbors to pick up shows arrogance and disrespect for them. But I believe this outward behavior has its roots in our attitudes towards ourselves, in our own lack of self-respect.
I admit I really can’t begin to comprehend people who throw trash out of their car window, so I’m guessing about this, but I suspect they have a very unhealthy attitude about themselves.
Just as good manners begin at home, respect begins with oneself. No doubt these people can take care of themselves and meet their own needs (though all too often at the expense of others), but that is a whole other thing than respecting oneself.
Thinking only of your own needs and grabbing what you can get are very different from gratefully receiving what you deserve and allowing others the same privilege.
The one is based in arrogance and self-indulgence — it uses up and destroys; the other restores and nurtures, and comes out of love.
The only answer I know of is to expose our children to a different set of values, to teach them, first, to love themselves, and only then to love others as themselves?