*Warning, this is a rant*
I was out walking this week with my children. Armed with bags and litter-pickers because rather than ignoring the problem and walking by in anger, we each have a responsibility to do something about it. And I’m not just talking about littering; I am a strong advocate in speaking up against injustices – whether to each other, other living beings or the environment. Keeping quiet and keeping the head down isn’t good enough. It’s cowardice, it’s weak, it’s a problem. There’s way too many of us that do that; if you are not proactive in becoming part of a solution, you are part of the problem; of that, I am a firm believer.
I recall an incident in early high school whereby a particularly nasty individual took it upon himself to verbally abuse and threaten me across a classroom of about 20 other kids AND a teacher. I stood up for myself, I was terrified, but I couldn’t wilt and cower as this bully wanted me to, even with the fear and terror coursing through my blood. I welcomed his challenge to action. This little dweeb loudly threatened to come after my friends (who were not in this class) and me after school. He threatened to stab me. In front of a teacher and class full of pupils – loudly – he said he would STAB me. The rest of the class sat silent. Witnessing and entirely inactive. The teacher sat silent – with her head down, the fear I could see coursing through her meek body. As my eyes pleaded at her to help in some way – she didn’t. I was a child, and I was appalled. If that mouthy Ned came at me in that room and stabbed me, as he threatened, I do not doubt that no-one would have ‘helped’. It would’ve just been a story they’d mouth off about after the damage was done. That’s only one highly snipped account of many from the glory days of childhood and the wonderful ‘safe’ public schooling system. If I had been attacked that day – every single student in that class and that teacher would have had my blood (or his) on their hands. Just as every one of us who walks past carelessly discarded rubbish, or ignores other acts of cruelty and abuse (for a quiet life, self-preservation, or because it’s not our business) — we carry the responsibility for the damage caused — especially if you choose to do nothing. The bird that chokes, it’s chicks that die, the domestic abuse victim murdered, the bullied kid that turns to suicide for an end.
It’s sad to say, for the most part, what I’ve witnessed in my time on this poor, messed up and abused planet – it’s all just talk and not enough doing.
Anyway, when I was walking with my kids, picking up rubbish as we went, we passed through an abandoned fairy trail. Last summer (2020), in the midst of a pandemic, lockdown and folk rushing around to be seen to care, this fairy trail was one such endeavour. I have no connections to the creators. And I know my realist attitude to such things is ‘negative’ to superficial types. But, none the less, when I heard about this and saw it for myself last year — these little areas within some woodland were taken over with ‘cutsie’ painted signs and an absolute barrage of plastic toys. I did snort that this was someone’s ‘great’ idea of collecting and getting rid of unwanted toys, but dressing it up – you know for the ‘magic’, for the kids! I wandered through the wonderland of trash – I mean the delightfully lovely community fairy trail. I couldn’t help but think, I really hope they have a plan to collect and remove all the ‘decor’ which included glass items, tinsel, dummies hanging from trees, plastic blocks, plastic slides, dollies, lights etc…
Maybe I’m a pessimist, some would say, but I’ll stick to realist…
This was last summer, it’s coming up almost a year later; all of that junk is still there, and thanks to the elements, it’s strewn around the surrounding area – dumped, left, abandoned, trashed. My daughters and I collected and disposed of some little pieces that we could today, including a fair amount of broken glass, but couldn’t manage much given what we had with us – there is so much there – caught up in trees, polluting the nearby water. It’s utterly appalling.
It looked ‘good’ at the time, though, at least to the bright sparks who came up with this idea for ‘the children’. It’s a shame it wasn’t used as a follow-through learning opportunity about our responsibility to the environment and cleaning up after ourselves. Another half-baked idea. Broken glass, plenty of plastic to kill and injure the wildlife – it’s fucking magical alright. There’s obviously much more to this, but this really summed up the ‘community’ spirit littered through this pandemic year (for me) – all these fools rushing to appear to be ‘caring’ ‘do-gooders’ doing their bit to get a pat on the back but leaving a trail of mess behind for someone else to deal with. The neighbours banging on pots and pans, clapping for essential workers one night, then throwing get-togethers and making many non-essential trips between the applause. Hypocrisy at its finest. Creating magic and the pandemic buzz of positive ‘wellbeing’ in the community, for a quick-fix feel-good factor, then discarding it carelessly – the trauma and hazard left behind will far outlast the so-called magic. The fairies must be sleeping, indeed.