COLUMN: Clean up your mess

MORRISBURG — Saturday night’s Santa Claus parade was a great event and a lot of fun to attend. The organizers and participants are to be commended for all of the hard work to put it on. Also deserving of high praise are the staff of the City of Cornwall’s Public Works Department. These workers did the thankless job of cleaning up the spectators’ mess, which there was a lot of. Why is so hard for people to clean up their mess?

The unsung heroes, workers from the City of Cornwall Public Works department cleaning up after the Cornwall Santa Claus Parade on November 21, 2015 (Newswatch Group/Phillip Blancher)
The unsung heroes, workers from the City of Cornwall Public Works department cleaning up after the Cornwall Santa Claus Parade on November 21, 2015 (Newswatch Group/Phillip Blancher)

The simple answer is that it is not hard to clean up. The city has garbage cans all over the place. It doesn’t stop people from dropping their coffee cups and cigarette packs on the ground 10-feet away from the garbage can. Go into local big-box stores like Walmart and you will see people’s empty Tim Hortons cups on the shelf next to the Lego sets. It must be okay to do, because someone will clean it up for you. Drop an empty Gatorade bottle on ground at a sports event; who cares, a volunteer will clean it up. Finished that double-double from Tim Hortons; leave it, the city will get that. Don’t you dare lift a finger, or walk to the garbage can.

This form of laziness is indicative of a larger societal problem, a lack of self-reliance. Why do something yourself, when someone or some agency will do it for you? Unfortunately the issue requires a lot of hard work to solve.

The idea of self-reliance, doing things yourself instead of relying on others, is hard to re-instill into people when an all-covering government and social-welfare industry has become so ingrained.  Programs and agencies that were created to give a helping hand up when times are tough, have become a growing bureaucracy and career line for many. Both on the receiving and giving side of things. What does a bureaucracy do when there are no more people to help? Create more need with big social ideas. The panacea for that is to use the word ‘no’ more often; to have consequences for actions instead of more handouts.

How does this relate back to litter bugs in Cornwall? If the government didn’t pick up the trash from along side of Second Street, what would happen. It would blow around and maybe even go into the yards of some of those who littered. City government should use the resources of their bylaw department to ticket those for littering, rather than enable them by picking up after them. A few well placed littering tickets might go well to changing sloth behaviour.

In the end, people need to learn to pick up after themselves and not let others do it for them. A little self-reliance will go a long way in Cornwall.

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