yesterday after walking down mount st. sunbury to take jackson to school, and as i was climbing back up, i noticed some garbage on the side of the road, near where people park. upon closer inspection, i discovered that it was the packaging from a glade brand automobile air freshner. being the amateur detective that i am, i quickly surmised that someone had placed the air freshener in their car and then disposed of the packaging on the road.
the question is: why?
why would someone care enough to make sure that the environment inside their car is a fresh and lovely strawberry serenade, while the wider environment (which we all share) is full of semi-opaque plastics and smells like 3-year old rain? i know that whoever casually dropped the annoying packaging out the side door of the dodge, hoping that no one noticed, didn't really think it through quite to this extent, but it comes down to selfishness, doesn't it? the attitude seems to be: i want my life to smell good, and i don't really care about the rest of you. someone will clean it up, or it will wash away, and i don't have to think about it anymore. but it's no big deal, as long as my car smells like artificial strawberries. yum.
i don't mean to point fingers, because i only wax hyperbolic here to make the following point: our selfishness is ugly. that's right, i said "our" selfishness. in other words, i'm just as guilty at times as mr. or ms. air freshener. i will go to great lengths to make sure that i'm comfortable, that i'm happy, that i'm content. and part of my happiness is that i don't have to think about the cost of that happiness beyond me. if i want to feel good, maybe i'll buy a new shirt that i think looks good on me, makes me feel confident and that "i deserve." nevermind whose overworked, underpaid hands made it, or under what conditions.
if i want to eat some fast food, i simply go and get my 2-minute meal and wolf it down, so that i'll be temporarily satisfied. nevermind whose hands grew that food, and under what conditions.
if i don't feel like walking to the store, i jump in the car. i use up some more fuel. nevermind the ongoing effect on the wider environment. it's just easier.
if i don't feel like recycling, i might just throw the cardboard in the garbage this time. or throw the cans and glass and plastic bottles in with the rest of it. i mean, it doesn't really matter, does it? really? after all, i'm just one little person on this earth, like one small grain of sand on the beach. what difference could it really make?
as long as my little cubic world feels comfortable and smells like strawberries, i'm content. i don't get too worked up about how it affects others. i'd rather just drop the packaging on the ground and hope that no one notices.
but if we all do that, what happens?
so thank you, local litterer. you helped me see my own selfishness today, and reminded me that my world is bigger than the six square feet around me. you helped me see myself, and the ugliness of my selfish comfort. you reminded me that i want to work to see if i can't just do my part to make the whole world smell like strawberries. the whole world, not just my world.
and by the way, i put your packaging in my recycling. you're welcome.
ps. i'm big on recycling. the whole "dropping garbage on the ground" thing is mostly just a metaphor for the selfishness that runs rampant in most of us, including (and especially) me.