This morning I took the dog for our usual circuit. He’s just been prescribed some new anti-inflammatory drugs for his arthritis and I was watching him closely to see if he was walking any easier. He was very excitable and the reason soon became clear. The remnants of someone’s takeaway were strewn around. A few drinks cans, milkshake cartons, polystyrene boxes, chip papers and, for the dog, discarded chips and kebabs.
I’d heard some cars racing around late last night and it looks like someone had used the quiet lane as a late night picnic spot, thrown the rubbish out of the car and then raced around the field. All depressingly familiar. Looking more closely it was clear that this was not a one off. The area was covered in plastic bottles, cans, paper and plastic. I particularly appreciated the way a number of drivers had emptied their ashtrays on the road.
Walking back towards home I met someone who also spotted the rubbish. Their considered wisdom was that someone ought to do something about it. It made them angry. The parents should bring their kids up better, they should be ashamed. The authorities ought to stop it and clean it up. Someone should report it.
All sentiments I could easily agree with.
I finished the walk, put the dog in the house (his rickety legs wouldn’t cope with a further walk), grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and a black sack, walked back to the spot and started collecting litter. At first I felt vaguely embarrassed. This soon passed. It felt good. Certainly better than raging, anger is a useless emotion. After 10 minutes I had filled my sack and made a big improvement both to the area and my mood.
The small things do make a difference. And small acts of compassion make us stronger.