There will be an evening of story together with making of St Brigid’s Crosses at Cabragh Wetlands on Wednesday 1st February at 8.00pm. Entry is free and all are welcome. If you have an old St Brigid’s Cross, please bring it along on the evening.
We all depend on a range of other people for our lives to work in peaceful and productive harmony. Family, neighbour, teacher, shopkeeper, priest, nurse and doctor, postman, farmer, mechanic and deliveryman – all play vital roles in making our communities buzz along happily. As Hilary Clinton’s book put it, “It takes a Village” to raise a child. It has recently occurred to me that there is someone else in the area, completely unknown to me, with whom I have a very close, even symbiotic relationship. I assume this person is male, probably quite young, and certainly fond of his car. You will probably be aware of him too, or at least his counterpart. It could be that you are my unknown non-acquaintance, though as a discerning and socially responsible Star reader, I doubt it.
I refer, as you may have guessed, to the person or persons who delight in littering our roads with their detritus. In my case it works like this. Mystery man goes to shop and buys beer, much of which seems to be consumed in the car. He passes my house once a week, winds down the window, throws out three empty cans (sometimes six, but never more) and heads off. I get up the next day, check the road outside, pick up his empties and put them in my recycling bin. The shop makes a sale, he gets his drink, I get the satisfaction of tidying my neighbourhood plus an occasional word of gratitude from a passing motorist, the waste disposal service gets a fuller load to recycle and the environment benefits. His selfish action might be seen by the classical economists as a great example of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market, whereby our individual actions of selfish self-interest lead to beneficial conclusions for the community as a whole.
You too will have felt the impact of this person on your neighbourhood, especially if you are in the countryside where there are no road cleaners. Very likely you too don a pair of gardening gloves and head out with a black bag to tidy up. It is of course immensely frustrating, but what choice do we have? Unless we are happy to live in a cess-pit, we have to get out there and do our bit. Are litterers ever identified, reported and prosecuted? Some may see us as weak for picking up other people’s crisp packets, burger boxes and chocolate wrappers, but to leave rubbish on the verges is to let them win and is teaching the next generation that this sort of anti-social behaviour is acceptable.
With the hedges trimmed, leaves gone and undergrowth dying back, this is the perfect time to ferret in the verges and get out the deeply buried plastic bottles that abound. If you can, take responsibility for an extra few yards of verge, and over the weeks you will make a real difference to our environment and begin to change the culture that seems to accept such anti-social behaviour as normal and inevitable.
As for my symbiotic non-acquaintance - your taste in beer is terrible. I hoped you were adopting more sober habits this week when just two beer cans and a cola tin appeared, but very likely the soft drink is evidence of you training a youngster to continue your practice. It would be nice if you left me a full can as reward for my services.