As you can tell, I've entered another post. Although my life was happy even without the updating of this weblog, I needed to make some comments about, well, garbage.
I guess I've got to start with a question: when is a piece of trash not a piece of trash?
My nephew is at Illinois State University and, instead of partaking in the Bacchanalian rituals of Spring Break at some southern beach (as I did years ago), he, and many colleagues, are on Alternative Spring Break, helping people and making a difference in the world. This year they're in Mullens, West Virginia--a small coal town ravaged by floods and a changing and unforgiving economy-- alongside proud Mullens community members, working to clean the debris that has cluttered the town (please check out the link here).
My nephew wrote about litter, wondering if it's from apathy, or maybe laziness. It could be that the litter, the lack of caring for one's surroundings, stems instead from despair. From what I've seen, I've found they have a strong correlation. The simplest caring word or action can sometimes be enough to turn the tide to hope from hopelessness. And the actions by these caring college students (and those in similar programs throughout the country), just may provide that hope.
Along those lines, I've wondered what it is that I can do to make a difference. In my classroom, I promote to my elementary students something I do daily: pick up one piece of trash (of course, I mention it should be dry and not dangerous). One of my students said, "Wow, if everyone in the world did that everyday, I bet we'd run out of trash pretty quick."
I bet he's right. And I bet a cleaner street--or a cleaner school or a cleaner parking lot--could produce a ripple effect: increasing neighborhood pride, better community spirit, fostering an intrinsic feeling of good for doing the right thing--something no one would even ever know you did. And who knows, that could spawn a whole lot of other good things, within a community, and within oneself.
I mean it's just a piece of trash, right? But, really, it's not, you know?