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Front Page » June 24, 2003 » Opinion » Trying to Understand
Published 4,487 days ago

Trying to Understand

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Sun Advocate publisher

There are some things in life that just don't make any sense, at least not to me. I ran across two situations this past weekend that caused me to walk away shaking my head. I have participated in both these type of events many times over the years but this weekend caused me to shake my head in disbelief.

I have walked in the Relay for Life for a few years now, beginning in the late 1990's in Coos Bay, Ore. Once again, our local community raised a lot of money and brought the awareness level up as to the effects of cancer and efforts to find a cure. It meant something different this time as I stopped a couple times to reflect my brother's death this past year from cancer.

I applaud the committee and the hundreds of hours of hard work that went into planning the event. I shook my head in disbelief, not because of the committee or their work, but because of a few walkers who had to duck behind the school and vehicles to grab a few puffs on their cigarettes. One would think that during a cancer walk, when so many people are reflecting about friends and relatives who have died from the effects of cancer and are also celebrating the lives of the many who are survivors of the disease, that the walkers could forego a cigarette or two until they at least left the school grounds.

Then the next day I volunteered with the local Kiwanis club to help clean eight miles of highway next to Scofield Lake. The Kiwanis, along with members of the area building inspectors group spent most of Saturday morning walking the roadways picking up other people's garbage. I have been doing this for various clubs and organizations for about 12 years and at one point Saturday I got very angry wondering why people still throw their bottles, cans, and every other imaginable piece of garbage out the windows of vehicles to litter that beautiful countryside. Don't people see all the volunteers picking up garbage and wonder about themselves as they continue to litter? I guess its the same kind of people who continue to smoke knowing full well that eventually cancer will convince them that its time to stop.

Once about 10 years ago I was visiting with my brother while we were riding in my car. At one point he through a pop can out his window. I immediately stopped and backed up and said we weren't going another foot until he got out and picked it up. It didn't take him long to realize what he had done and his comment was, "But I've always thrown out my garbage."

After Saturday's group effort we now know the beer and pop of choice for those near Scofield, as well as the most popular brands of snuff. I have never seen so many plastic bags and remains of fishing equipment packages in my life. Highways throughout the country are kept clean, not by the people who litter, but by volunteers who are proud of their communities and want to keep them attractive.

I know that there are litter laws and I suppose police do pass out tickets if they see someone littering, but Saturday I was thinking that it would be a good idea if people who are caught littering were required to clean 10 miles of highway three times a year for a couple dozen years as part of their fine. Maybe this would wake them up and help them to realize that our roadways are not garbage dumps.

And by the way, throwing out a cigarette butt is also considered littering.

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June 24, 2003
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