Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lead by Example, and Serve

Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 4/11/12.

Honorable Commissioners:
Last week, Commissioner Hare told us about a bit of work he did at the Fairgrounds, helping get it ready for Motor Metal Madness, and the surprise of people at seeing him working with a shovel.  He said that this kind of positive peer pressure is one way that people can help clean up our county.
Indeed, it would be great to have public servants who lead by example, and since they are our servants, we can ask them to do so, starting with you, the Josephine County Board of Commissioners.  You, as leaders of our county servants, can require the rest of our county servants to lead us by example by visibly serving us in the most basic of ways. 
I respectfully request that you pass a resolution requiring each employee of the County, including yourselves, to pick litter from public property every work day for one half-hour after your mid-day meal.
Picking up litter is beneath nobody’s dignity.  It is neither a chore for slaves nor a yearly project to show good citizenship.  It is an everyday duty of every resident, one that has not been done as often as it should.  
Not only would this quickly clean up our county properties and adjoining roads; it would be a great example for people to follow at home and around their neighborhoods.  High school kids out for lunch would see people in suits picking up litter from sidewalks and roadways, and see that it isn’t a job for slaves alone. 
An old gardener once said that a change is as good as a rest.  Office workers could rest their minds, get some fresh air, and thereby be more productive in the afternoon for this productive break from their indoor routine. 
Those who regularly work outside would learn to see the litter around them by looking for it and picking it up.  Becoming sensitized to it, sheriff’s deputies who now ignore litter on private property would no longer be able to not see it, would become as offended at it as I am, and start telling people to clean up their messes, starting with businesses with messy parking lots.
Picking up litter is surprisingly rewarding.  We are built to find pleasure in seeking and finding; the value of what we are looking for it irrelevant.  It is a little like searching for Easter eggs, even though it is trash.  Still more pleasure comes from no longer seeing an annoyance, and knowing that one has personally removed it.

Published at Yahoo Voices. 

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