Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
I am not a neat person. One quick look at my desk would easily confirm that to be more than just a little bit of an understatement. I have long since made my peace with the fact that I have a much higher tolerance level for clutter than most people. This was a particular source of annoyance for my mother as I was growing up, and I do regret the angst I know I must have caused her.
It may come across a little hypocritical when I say that I have a zero tolerance level for those who leave trash and litter along the road, etc. When I was a youngster, I remember seeing a public service announcement on television that featured the image of a Native American encountering all sorts of litter, pollution, etc. as he was trying to enjoy what was obviously once a beautiful and pristine wilderness area. The final image in the commercial is one of trash being thrown at his feet and then a close-up of a single tear rolling down his cheek. It still is a powerful image and one that had a significant impact on my father and I when we first saw it. From that point on, whenever we went camping, fishing, hunting, etc. we made sure to leave wherever we were at least as clean – if not cleaner – than how we found it. The phrase “Don't make the Indian cry” became a credo for us. I can't say the Indian would be thrilled with the interior of my vehicle, but I can promise I'll not give him any reason to weep by throwing trash out of my vehicle.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was covering a County Commission meeting, one of the commissioners lamented the fact that so many of our roadways in and around Madison are littered with trash. That is very unfortunate, especially considering how unnecessary it is. It is not difficult to hold onto that Burger King bag until you find a trash can, then dispose of the trash in a proper way.
There will be a “Clean-up Madison” day planned for later in the year. It would be wonderful if a lot of people could volunteer to help with that event. But, even if one can't help with cleaning up, we can all take responsibility for ourselves and not make our community look worse. Please, “Don't make the Indian cry.