Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When You're Down In the Dumps...

...pick up your trash!

I was just looking back over your comments from my trashy blog Sunday. I agree with Rachel about the "comprehensiveness" of Heather's thoughts. Heather said, "Most of this to my mind points to a complete lack of understanding of what it means to be part of a bigger picture, part of community, to be connected to the larger populace in some way as opposed to be the center of your world and therefore not having to give anyone else a second (or even first) thought."

The truth is that those who live in the First World tend to be more aware and less tolerant of people's "trashy" habits that those I have encountered in the Third World. I wonder if that's because people in the Third World are so much more consumed with just getting through life a day at a time. My Dominican friends, for example, are some of the most community-minded and socially-connected people I know. They are also much more focused on the bare necessities of life. Consequently they seem largely unaware of how much trash exists along their roadsides.

On the other hand, it's possible that the uncaring attitude many people have about such things as trash is really a matter of heart. The idea that someone else will pick up after me, that what I'm doing is my business (mind your own!), or that my actions have little or no consequence for the rest of the planet are heart issues.

A friend of mine has been reading a book about being a good dad. He told me that the primary lessons he is responsible to teach his young sons are "a)they are the 'apple of my eye,' and b)they are not the center of the universe."

Scriptor told us Sunday that his wife thinks the problem is the former, a "low self-esteem."

I tend to believe it's the latter. Why hasn't anyone told them that they aren't the center of the universe? Why aren't they smart enough to figure it out for themselves? More "why" questions!

What do you think?


Heather said...

Sorry about the looong post before, didn't realize until it was a bit too late. I'll try to keep this one shorter ;). I just wanted to make a note about Third World garbage.

I lived in one of the poorest countries in Africa for a time, definitely Third World, definitely a lot of garbage in places we would think should be garbage free. But that's because we have the noses of people who live in the First World where deodorant and soap are in every home, usually several of each kind, and we have the infrastructure to sustain constant garbage removal from every home, business, and institution. In countries where that doesn't exist, then there is often no other place for garbage but the roadside, or behind the grocery store, or in the empty patch down the street. But you will never see them drop garbage where, according to the local sensibilities, it should not go. As much as they are able, their own homes, yards, stores, any living/working areas that are 'theirs' are immaculate. You haven't seen someone clean until you've seen them sweep their dirt yard completely free of every pebble, leaf, or bit of wayward plastic.

My Teacher Hat said...

When I have students straighten the classroom after they've worked on a big, craft-oriented project, I get tired of hearing, "Oh, that's not mine." So I try to tell them from the outset that everyone at their table (usually about 5 students working together on the group project) is responsible for the tidiness of the table, chairs, and the floor beneath and around them. I dismiss students by table, and if they all keep saying, "It's not my mess!" and expecting someone else to do it, then all of the students at the table are tardy for their next class. Needless to say, this rarely happens - someone steps up to pick up the last remaining trash.

I haven't figured out yet whether I'm teaching them a bigger lesson (to always act as a community, all taking equal responsibility) ... or whether I'm just teaching them that that's how things are in my classroom. I try to teach them the bigger lessons, but I only have them for 5 hours a week. If they don't get that community lesson over and over in the 107 waking hours that they aren't in my classroom, I'm not sure that my 5 hours of instruction transfers to their whole worldviews.

Sam said...

Heather, I LOVE your observation about living in a Third World country. My visits to the DR, which fairly frequent, are relatively short. What I have seen there, however, mirrors exactly what you described! Thanks!

MTH, you echo an observation I had when we raised our children. Kids seemed to best learn values when they were reinforced in multiple places, but primarily the home and the school. I tend to think, though, that the most significant influence on young people the age you teach are their peers.

Thank you for a great comment. I enjoy your blog.