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My friend Caroline posted something on her Facebook page yesterday, which really struck a chord: “I just reprimanded an older teenage girl for throwing her empty coke can down on the pavement right in front of me. She was watching me watching her as she did it – and was with another who did the same with her rubbish. I snarled “For God’s sake, have some respect!” which was met with a challenging sneer and a derogatory comment, along the lines of: ‘YOU pick it up!’ Today I am feeling like I have really had enough of living in the big city and the agro that is to be found here.”
Another friend, Laurel, responded: “Makes me think of a similar incident when a young man threw something on the street in front of my car. I hollered 'HEY!' to him – and when he turned and looked, I said "Pick it up!". He hesitated, looked like he was about to say something snarky, then I tilted my head, smiled, and said 'C'mon – pick it up, please'…and he did! We've all been there – careless, carrying a self-centered attitude around. When his eyes met mine, I saw myself, and felt like I was talking to myself – I think that's when the magic happened.”
Am I the only one thinking that Laurel’s episode could have ended rather differently?
Caroline lives in England and Laurel in the US… Two supposedly civilized countries but clearly both with belligerent young people who think nothing of chucking their rubbish around the streets where it lies until others clean it up. What’s the betting that this is emulated throughout the ‘Western’ world? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
Further down this page is a story about Singaporean children tackling cleaning tasks in their schools as part of the curriculum. The idea is that the children learn from a very young age to respect those around them and to look after their surroundings and keep them clean. It is hoped that they’ll learn to clean up after themselves as they go and will take what they learn out into the environment as well as into their own homes. It will become part of who they are – a character trait.
Singapore has a reputation for being one of the cleanest countries in the world. I believe I know why…
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3rd March 2016