To me the need to 'wash our rubbish' is metaphoric to our lives. Is there a 'bit of rubbish' in your life that you'd like to get rid of?
'Washing Our Rubbish' will lead to a healthier, happier life.
Some years ago the hot topic in our local councils was washing our empty recyclable food containers before placing in the recycling bin to help alleviate the rat, mouse and other vermin problems at our transfer and recycling centres, and essentially at the time, to save our councils, and therefore us, money.
During a discussion with friends regarding reminding each other to be diligent and do this, one friend commented
‘Why should I wash my rubbish? – that’s someone else’s job’.
I suspect she wasn’t alone in this opinion, but it got me thinking then and I’m still thinking many years later.
I often talk and think about the high sense of entitlement we have in many western countries, particularly it seems, here in the ‘lucky’ country of Australia. Off to the dictionary I go for a definition of entitlement…
the fact of having a right to something…
the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment…
To me the need to wash our rubbish to help reduce greater problems is metaphoric to our lives.
So many times, we get ourselves into trouble, do something that is not helpful to others, out rightly offend or hurt someone, act selfishly towards another, even simply lack kindness or consideration and it causes pain, creates difficult situations for others, or simply causes angst.
Occasionally we get pulled up on it – we get to see first-hand how our actions have affected others, and all too often our immediate reaction is to get defensive, deny our actions, try to explain them away or simply we don’t care. Often we are reacting out of our own filters of what we think is right or not. Sometimes we just don’t think about our wider impact.
For example, my friend didn’t want to be bothered washing her recyclables – once they were in the bin, she felt she was off the hook in her responsibility to the community and world and someone else could deal with them after that. It was someone else’s job to clean up after her. I suspect that if she worked at the local recycling centre at that time, and had to deal with the rats and mice on a daily basis, she would feel differently. She would probably be quite resentful of those who didn’t wash their rubbish as it made so much extra work, cost more money and took more time to fix the problem. It was probably also pretty unpleasant.
When we don’t take responsibility for our own actions, we are often acting out of our own misplaced sense of entitlement – we feel we have the right to do whatever we please. We inherently believe that we have privileges and that we deserve special treatment – even at the cost of others. While our rights are important and true at many levels, when we blindly think this way about ourselves, we can easily forget the rights and privileges of others.
There are many world examples that easily come to mind. A small per cent of the world use a large per cent of the resources. People with unresolved anger issues, misplaced loyalties or misunderstood cultural sensitivities hurt other innocent people – think of the many horrific massacres around the globe. Relationships break down because we are not willing to work through our hurts and take responsibility, so we project them onto others. Children are homeless and hungry while others live in ivory towers. Farmers are unwillingly displaced off their land while mining companies seek to fill the projected needs of consumers and chase the buck. The list is endless – sometimes they’re subtle - but let’s not get too depressed in that.
Let’s think instead of what we can do in our small space. Everybody’s answer to this will be different. Here’s a few of mine – stated not to big note myself but to hopefully help you see what you do that makes a difference. I work towards understanding my ‘red buttons’ – the things that set me off and make me act defensively, irrationally and without thinking. If I can work through more of these, I will act towards others better. I recycle – and yes I do wash and scrape out – well, most of the time! I try to buy ethically and sustainably. I give to charities that support the less privileged. I write books, sing songs and share blogs that I hope will open conversations. I listen to my family and friends when they pull me up – not always easily, but I usually get back to that! I educate myself as much as I can before I make decisions. I buy shampoo that doesn’t threaten the gorillas. I realise that I am not perfect.
In our own small circles, we can be blissfully immune to the bigger picture – at least for a time, but if we are to make the world a better place for everyone, it is a wise person who takes the time to consider their actions against the benefits of the world, not just their own small space.
Incidentally, ‘rinsing’ our recyclables is still encouraged – at the end of our washing up so as to not waste water! We are otherwise encouraged to ‘give them a good scrape out to remove any leftovers’. Still sound advice – and it makes me ponder again that ‘washing the rubbish’ of our own lives, scraping out the old, taking responsibility for our actions and reactions and thinking about the bigger picture of how we individually impact the world, is worth the time and effort.
Merelyn’s writing is supported in part by the sale of her books. Autobiography - ‘The Deepest Part of Me’. ‘Inspire’ – inspirational reflections for your life’s journey. ‘Stories behind the Songs’ and her first children’s picture book ‘To The Moon and Back - Grandma’s Rocket Ship Adventure’. To find out more about her work and to support her through the purchase of her writings and music, please go to www.carterandcarter.com.au