During our daily walks, we have noticed an increasing amount of litter along our usual route. The other morning, I remarked to my husband, “I’d like to see an animal jump out of the bushes when someone throws trash out their car window, and throw it right back in their car. I wonder how they’d like that?” People who demonstrate such disdain for the natural world and their fellow inhabitants infuriate me. I was fuming as I bent down to pick up another fast food cup and wrapper.
When I got home, I messaged a childhood friend of mine, Douglas Moore, who is an artist. Here is an edited recap of our exchange:
ME: Good day Doug, Do you remember when you won the pollution essay contest in 4th grade? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s still a problem. I have a favor to ask. If I were an artist, I would draw a picture of animals throwing trash back at people’s cars or in the windows of their houses. If you are interested in creating an image, I’d like to write up a blog and post it. Let me know if you’re interested and have the time.
DOUG: I remember the essay, but are you sure it was the 4th grade and not the 6th? Sadly, I have noticed and the current administration doesn’t seem interested in doing anything to protect against the inevitable repercussions of pollution. I like your idea, so let me see if I can come up with anything worthwhile.
ME: It certainly could have been 6th grade, Doug. Pollution and the persistent depletion of the Earth’s resources is unfortunately practiced on both sides of the party line. While I agree that the current administration is choosing to minimize and ignore the role our actions play in endangering the health of our planet, I see plenty of room on both sides of the aisle for improving our attitudes and practices when it comes to protecting the one and only Earth for the generations to come.
With two sons, and hopefully grandchildren someday, I do whatever I can to change what I’m doing that might improve the chances of them living in a safe, healthy environment. Change is not easy or comfortable, but the only person I can change is myself.
The next morning, I received this picture.
DOUG: Carolyn, I’m not sure if this is what you had in mind…but let me introduce you to Rudy Rabbit, the owner of Rudy Rabbit’s Recycling.
ME: Douglas, Rudy the Recycling Rabbit is adorable. He should inspire anyone to be more conscientious about littering. He reminds me that responding in anger is rarely effective. It’s much better to be the change you want to see in the world.
DOUG: As with any idea the wheels start turning…and I thought we’d need a few identifiable characters and Rudy was the first. But the more I worked on him, the more I thought, would he really be vindictive, which is more of a human trait. Anyway, it just felt right to make him part of the solution instead of adding to the problem! But a carload of sneaky raccoons and mischievous squirrels are more likely to do a drive-by trashing. Glad you like Rudy. He’s excited about letting more people know about the benefits of recycling!!!
ME: I completely agree. Action that originates in vindictiveness is rarely effective in achieving a long-term solution. Perhaps Rudy will be the example that makes Rowdy Raccoon realize that littering is a self-destructive behavior.
DOUG: Our next character now has a name? Rowdy Raccoon!
ME: See how I slipped in that new character?
The next morning I found this image waiting for me.
Doug’s artwork reminded me that when something is wrong, it’s wrong no matter how many people are doing it. When something is right, it’s right no matter how few people are doing it. And so, we will continue to pick up trash during our morning walk. Perhaps those who see us doing so, as they drive by, will decide to hold onto their trash until they get home or to work where they can properly dispose of it. Maybe someday there will be more Rudys than Rowdys because the Rowdys have chosen to be more like Rudy. In the meantime, let me have the patience and courage to be a Rudy myself.