Trashing of America

It has been disheartening to see the decline in the pristine atmosphere in American communities in recent years. Being a child in the 50's and 60's brings many nostalgic memories of innocence often lost in today's society. Reluctantly, I am resigning myself to the fact that America is slowly eroding in its ability to cling to its societal cultural uniqueness, which has lead in my opinion to the "Trashing of America".

Is there a link between the loss of respect for one's environment to personal dignity and self-respect? Is it a sign of selfishness that is running ramped throughout not only America but the world in general? Could there be a correlation between illegal immigrants coming into our country from other countries and either in disregard or ignorance be a contributing factor? Does homelessness play a part in the degradation of an area they inhabit? Are the youth of our nation becoming complacent in their attitudes and contributing to the downfall? Have we as Americans lost our desire to maintain the high standard that shows not only respect for ourselves, but to all humanity around us? Will sickness and disease become a natural result of the lack of cleanliness and filth that is now beginning to show it's ugly head? Will mental wellness be affected by the physical decline and in reality is the trashing a sign of an already unhealthy mental state?

Extremism on any side does not reflect the complete truth, however, there is truth in everything which sheds light on the basic fundamental truth. Although every situation varies to a degree and has exceptions, there are commonalities which show substantiated concern or resolution.

Every year my grandmother, and most likely her mother, would "spring clean" her home until it was sparkling. Every time my family moved, my mother and I would not only deep clean our new home, but would deep clean the home we were moving out of from top to bottom. We worked tirelessly washing walls, cleaning cabinets inside and out, and every inch of space was detailed to a high standard of excellence.

My mother made clothing for her five children (today that may not be the least expensive way to go), my father worked hard to provide, and each of us kids were clean and well cared for. Our physical appearance along with our environment coincided, one reflecting the other. Although at times money was sparse and we lived modestly, our appearance and environment never reflected it. When my ex-husband was attending college at the beginning of our marriage, we were dirt poor. It was my determination, however, that we did not look poor. I watched for sales, sewed clothing, kept our house neat and clean, cooked meals, and sensed the need for personal dignity.

Does all of this sound like Leave it to Beaver? Are any of you asking what is "Leave It To Beaver"? Yes, it may sound like and actually is, an old TV show from the 50's; but, that is what I grew up with. Was life perfect and without problems? A resounding "NO"!

There is also a need for balance. Often when my children were small the room would be cluttered with toys and the laughter and joy of children was more important than an orderly room. My youngest at one time found her way to the backyard with two of her friends, turned on the hose, ran the water into the garden dirt, then proceeded to bathe in the thick muddy water. After searching for three lost girls, they were discovered in the backyard covered from head to toe in mud. It is a memory that still makes me laugh. As a grandmother, I always want my home to be a place where memories can be built and don't want it a place where children do not feel comfortable or have to walk on eggshells. If something gets broken or milk spilled, oh well, the feelings of that person are more important.

Next, is it selfish to litter a public street, parking lot, or establishment? Absolutely! One day while walking out of a store, I glanced across the parking lot to witness a man around 60 blow his nose, then drop the tissue on the sidewalk right before walking into a fast food place. Having 17 small grandchildren I was immediately disgusted by his lack of concern for other's and sat in my car for a few moments unsettled. This had not been the first time I have witnessed someone eliminating unwanted items in a public arena where other's have to be the recipient of someone's repulsive and nauseating display of disregard.

Other countries throughout the world have had their streets littered and destroyed by the influx of immigrants. This has been seen in Europe especially. Pictures of clothing, trash, mattresses, and more have been left for the invaded cities to have to deal with the aftermath. This not only effects the citizens emotionally but economically. Rather than immigrants feeling gratitude and respect for the countries they enter, they have for the most part shown grave disrespect and a feeling of entitlement in that country. This is not the case with all immigrants, in fact, many are grateful for the safe refuge and ability for a new beginning. With that being said, the man who I witnessed blowing his nose and throwing the tissue on the ground was obviously not an immigrant nor a homeless man.

This brings us to the challenge of the rapidly growing homeless society in our country. An example is in Oakland, California where the homeless have caused problems with sewage and trash. The area has also created dangers for local businesses and residents. Some of the panhandlers have been aggressive to the local traffic.

In the area I live, the number of homeless people has grown substantially even though it is a nice college town. The capital of my state drove many homeless out of its city only to have them settle in surrounding areas. In the hills above me, a group of homeless people were camping on the property without the proper sewage precautions, endangering the inhabitants below with disease and sickness. They were relocated to another area where the sewage could not affect the homes below. Other states have also encouraged the homeless to come to our state because we are known for our charitable programs. I have seen this once beautiful college town turn into areas of trash-laden dangerous selected areas of degradation where crime has also increased as a result.

I personally feel there are many issues surrounding the homeless that need to be addressed and I have sympathy for the innocent unfortunate victims that find themselves in this situation. The topic of this speech is the trashing our of country and those issues will not be addressed in this speech.

Let's now address the mental effect of "Trashing of America". Does the mental wellness of people affect their desire and willingness to keep America clean, or does the trashing of America cause mental unrest? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

We have seen people come out of poverty and ignorance change in not only their mental well-being but in their personal appearance and surroundings as well. When we lift someone up through education or enlightenment, the light within them begins to grow. This generally affects all aspects of their lives. That is not to say that in poverty people cannot be humble, good, productive and enlightened.

Everything begins in the home. Perhaps that is where change needs to begin. Parents teaching their children at an early age to have pride in the community and respect for those around them. After being around many youth and college students, there is a gleam of hope that resides deep inside. There are many impressive young people who seem to have it together. Others, unfortunately, seem to dominate the news nationwide who seem relentless in their desire to cause havoc to our society in any way possible, including destroying anything or anyone.

Are there solutions to the issue at hand, or are we destined to continue down this path? My belief is that there are means of perhaps turning the tide. My plan is to write a follow-up speech which will be entitled, "Cleaning Up America". It is easy to complain about a problem we see, but are we willing to try and help make a difference?




About the Speaker

Susan Summers (susan)
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