It was a shock to go over Broken Tree Hill this morning and see just how broken it was.
There was litter scattered all around, beer and wine bottles, plastic cups, cigarette papers, cans of every description – Malibu and coke, vodka and ginger beer, diet coke – snack packets of popcorn, crisps, biscuits, and weirdly, some tomatoes; a tube of Lipsyl, two bottle openers (one of them a gift from Halliburton corps, so I’m guessing one of their parents has something to do with the oil business), wet wipes, little grip-seal bags with pictures of marijuana leaves or smiley faces on the front, and on and on in a depressing vista of trash, quite clearly demarcated, though, like the impact lines radiating from a meteor crater. The only upside was the carrier bags that were blowing around, too. At least I had something to clear it all up with.
It was all pretty depressing. It seemed to confirm – in that immediate and overwhelming way that anecdotal evidence sometimes has – that human beings are careless and selfish and self-obsessed, a suicidal species of virus, quite happy to sacrifice the very ground they walk on for the sake of a few hours of pleasure.
I knew I couldn’t affect their attitude. Even if I could snap my fingers, magic them all back here to clear up, I’m sure they’d refuse (once they’d gotten over the crazy trip). Which made me feel doubly mad. The only thing I could do to make me feel better was clean up myself, even though it felt like I was enabling their behaviour, and even though I knew it wouldn’t stop them doing it all again. The world was doomed, and here I was tidying up round the edges.
But even though it was a small gesture, it did make me feel better – very much better, actually. I carried four full shopping bags of trash back up the lane, just as the church bells over the way started to ring. I’m not religious, but it was great to hear them. Because someone had cast those bells, and hung them in a tower, so other people could tug on a rope and sound out a message of hope and solidarity. Because let’s face it – there’s plenty of trash in the world, poor behaviours – evil behaviours, sometimes. And you do what you can to address them, but mostly what you do is look inwards and address them in yourself, and look for the hope there.
Viktor Frankl said: The salvation of Man is through love and in love.
That’s what I aspire to. Cleaning up on Broken Tree Hill might not mean all that much, but it’s a start.