"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Backlash

Beyond helping my family with everyday projects, chores and providing attention as needed, I didn't do any charitable deeds today. In fact, I don't think we even left our property.

Le'me think.



I do have a confession to make. This seems like as good a time as any.

I feel sometimes like my efforts are pointless. They've been insignificant gestures, really. These deeds have been just too minor, and my efforts to do larger deeds haven't been that successful. (See the earlier hopes for a Pajama Project event.)

I had hoped that, by doing good for others, those folks might pass on the sentiment to others. Not to ME, just whoever stepped into their lives next, or in need of some help they could provide. But I'm not even making a difference in my own neighborhood. We've picked up trash only to find the streets and sidewalks and park littered again the next day. We've taken out neighbors' trash cans, brought them back in, picked up their newspapers when they're away, all unbidden. It shouldn't matter that they don't know who's doing this for them. It shouldn't even matter that someone HAS done this for them. But when we go out of town for a day or three, do they even bother to toss our newspapers toward the front door? No. Our papers lay in the driveway or on the front lawn or wherever they may fall, soaking up dew and sprinkler spit, announcing our home's vacancy, until our return. How long would they let this go on? (Hmmm...I feel a sociology experiment coming on.)
I know I shouldn't expect much, if anything, from others; that if I WANT someone to pick up my papers while we're away, I should just ask. But the newspaper detail is one that completely skips my mind as I pack for a family of four and head out the door, so I never THINK to ask a neighbor. And I ALLOW myself to be disappointed when I see the collection in the front yard.

I know that. I'll work on it.
But today I did for my family, with my family.

Sure, I collected my recycling in their proper bins, turned off unnecessary lights, kept water consumption low. But there were no gestures to outsiders, no door opening for strangers, no trash pick up outside our own place.

Photo courtesy Ohm17 under Creative Commons License.

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