Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A River of Problems

Being productive.  I have my take on this, but it’s something we all strive for.  We can turn life into a hamster wheel of activity, or we can find meaning in the things we are already doing or aspire to do.  And in some cases you just can’t avoid doing stuff around the house no matter how little meaning you find in the activity of dusting the furniture.

On Friday and Saturday the first Clay City Red River cleanup took place.  A group of seven worked on Friday to excavate and pile up tires and garbage from the river and on Saturday a different group of ten came behind and either removed or moved to the top of the bank those piles (about fifty tires and other sundry garbage) and excavated and removed another fifty or so tires and other sundry garbage including a TV, washing machine tub, and a surprise dead deer.
The Saturday crew and property owner (in orange) who let us haul out
In the whole scheme of things our little group barely scratched the surface of the problem.  A big part of the issue is cultural ignorance.  And I don’t mean we’re a bunch of stupid hillbillies.  I mean that there is little societal awareness of the importance of NOT allowing discarded appliances and used tires to get washed into the river during floods.  Er, was that litter?  Or household garbage dumped out the back door?  Anyway, in some cases the garbage in the river is simply things that got carried away from where they were deposited.  In a few cases there were river dump sites.  Out of sight; out of mind, and I don’t have to pay any dump fees.
The river is a convenient place to store things that you never want to see again.  Like dead bodies.  Or the castoffs of a disappointing and hollow life. 
But I digress…
We’re (Powell Countians, Kentuckians, or human beings in general) not too poor to deal with the problems of garbage.  And we’re not too stupid to figure out where used tires go.  We’re just too lazy to clean up after ourselves.  We think we’re too busy to take the time to put trash in its place.  Not throw it away, because we know there is no “away.”  But our refuse has a place.  We—as humans—have come up with many ways to get rid of the things we don’t want.  We bury a lot of it.  We burn some of it.  And we build walls to keep the rest out.
It’s all interrelated.  When we don’t value relationships between humans we’re not going to value the land or the air or the water other humans need to live and thrive.  The problem is that we’ve become too good at ignoring the threats to our own health.  We let politicians, ad men, and the bad assumptions they peddle blind us to the adverse effects of our lifestyles.  So our water is polluted.  We ingest rust, and filth, and chemicals and shrug our shoulders as if to say “what can I do about it?”
Water pollution is not a problem of class.  It’s not a problem of race.  It’s not a partisan issue.  Except some people think it’s okay to pollute as long as you can afford to pay your fines.  That’s such a dysfunctional way to do business.
There are some who say water will become more valuable than oil soon.  I submit that it already is and always has been more valuable than oil.  Without it we all die.  Second only to air we depend on water to survive.  Oil is a passing fad.  It’s made a lot of people rich.  And when it goes away the wealthy will turn to water.  They’ll sell it to the poor at a premium.  PS, you and me are poor in the grand scheme.
All of us need to care about water right now.  Not tomorrow.  Not someday when the tap is dry, or foul, or when the price is too high.
It’s important that we care enough for our communities that we stop dumping trash just over the hill where it’s out of sight but still upstream of someone else’s water intake.  It benefits us and our neighbors.  We can’t keep harping on the need for “somebody” to do “something” and bring jobs to our town when we can’t even be bothered to haul off our own trash. 
There is no meaningful purpose behind laziness.  I’m not talking about taking a lazy day to enjoy the weather or the view or to just decompress.  I’m talking about the mental laziness that leads to apathy and eventually to the decision to do something like ignore that pile of tires down in the field until after the flood carries them away or the decision to look fast up and down the road to make sure no one’s looking before chucking that broken down recliner in to the ditch.
We all do stupid $#!+ like that.  Or do we?
I don’t litter.  I never have.  The floorboard of every car I’ve owned has looked like the bottom of a dumpster, but I NEVER THROW GARBAGE OUT THE WINDOW OF MY CAR.  It’s a decision you make.  And you don’t ever have to wrestle with that moral alligator ever.  Just decide not to throw stuff “away” and when confronted with something you don’t want to hang onto for nostalgic reasons then go find the proper waste or recycling receptacle to put it into.
Oh, except dead bodies.  Just don’t mess with them to begin with.

PS, we made the front page of the local paper


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