Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Flicks of Toothpaste on the Mirror

"There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad."

--Salvador Dali

I have a serious issue. More like a real problem.

I was watching a nice, young, hard-working UW student of some variety having a struggle. They were pacing, obviously distressed. The problem was they did not know in which bin to place their potentially recyclable material.

What does this have to do with me?

Here this person was; an obviously responsible, environmentaly friendly and concerned citizen who actually recruited a friend in this crusade. And there I was, picturing a convoluted scenario based on my problem.

I pictured this fine person (who eventually made a choice to place their valued recyclable into a certain bin) walking away from the bin feeling quite good about the world because the fate of that particular piece of plastic was now in the hands of some happy, well-mannered, caring individuals who magically turn plastic we use and toss into a bin back into some usable product once again. And that's good, because less is piling up in virgin forests or ice rafts and killing small helpless owls and baby seals. The responsible citizen is happy that their leadership provides the means for their involvement in caring for the world.

My problem is the following:
I pictured a different scenario after this fine person tossed the plastic into the "appropriate" bin. And this might be just a reflection of the helplessness I feel during this period of time in my life, true. But I picture this bin NOT full of exactly the appropriate recyclable materials as defined by the handy diagrams on the lid of the can, but more like a mosaic of items of which maybe 3% is actually going to be recycled. Even worse, I picture this bin being picked up by someone who DOESN'T care about the environment. They are pissed at the world because although they were a physics professor in Laos they couldnt get a job here in the good ol' US of A because they don't speak a lick of english. And so now they support their family by hoisting recylce bins around. Maybe that stuff ends up in the trash because its only more work for them to haul 60 lbs of leaking, stinky, half-rotten food in giant bags to a separate bin. To 4 separate bins depending on the type of material. So maybe it makes it to that processing station or maybe it makes it to the dump after all. Let us be positive and believe that our Laotion (could be any origin) friend cares and separates appropriately--and I happen to believe this is the case. But then the real fun begins.

A truck has to come and pick up this stuff. Assuming everything in the truck is recyclable, where does the truck go? Is there someone watching this truck and tracking its movements? Maybe it goes back to a station here at the fine institution of UW where this trucks load look so similar to other trucks loads that it really isnt worth the trouble to unload the truck into the properly labeled and well differentiated receptables. Its much easier to load it into the Big Green Bin known as the dumpster. Its not called a dumpster because it contains recyclable goods.

If you havent already figured it out I don't trust humans very much. After all, we have decided to torture and kill each other over footwear. People have destroyed everything to make room for more people and more places for those people to eat and put trash and murder and rape and kill other people. We put something in a recycle bin, someone comes and picks it up and its out of sight and mind. We are supposed to trust that someone is looking out for us, blindly we trust. And here on a LIBERAL college campus, its supposed to be EXTREMELY guarded. I say bullshit.

This is a situation that repeats itself in all levels of our lives. 30% of the population select people to do the talking for us and then 75% of those people stop paying attention. That very small fraction that is left, something like 7%, are the people who took genuine interest in the course of action our countries' leadership was taking, and this is supposed to be a representation of my views? But thats not what gets me. It's that the people who dont take part in the election process and can not show you on a map where North Korea is that bitch and complain when things are not turning out the way they want them to.

I don't trust people. I believe that if left up to someone else, I will probably get screwed because it seems to be human nature. I do not believe that I should screw before I get screwed, but instead I live a life in constant defense. I do not walk around assuming the worst about every person I see, in fact its the opposite. I assume the best about the people around me. The larger trend of human nature, however, scares the shit out of me.

I don't follow the people who pick up the recycling bin and make sure that it gets separated from the trash at each step right until the moment the magic happens to turn this into a reusable material. I don't lay awake at night wondering about that. What I do think about, though, is the overall nature of trusting that a governing body elected by a fantastically small group of people really cares about the same things I do.

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