aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

When snowbody's business is everybody's business

Zach helped me clear the drive and walks this morning. Then he took a nap. After lunch, I took him home. And it just seemed to me a perfect day -- and time of day -- for a walk. The sun was shining brightly, the snow was beautiful, and I needed to move some muscles. So I took my usual mile walk around the neighborhood. And as beautiful as the day was, with the sun and the snow and all, I was thinking some rueful thoughts.

I noticed how few people were out with shovel or snowblower, clearing their walks and drives. I had to walk almost the whole way in the public street, since the walks were mostly virgin snow, five inches deep. I found myself thinking of my youth. I was told by my parents that it was the responsibility of each resident to clear the public sidewalk on one's property. I believe I was told that it was a legal obligation, but even if that isn't so, it was most certainly impressed upon me as a social obligation.

And sure, there were people back then who couldn't or didn't get out to remove the snow. They were too old, or too sick, or too distracted. But most people, of all ages, did. I noticed a mix of ages today, among those few at work on the newfallen snow. It made me wonder, why such a change from the days of not so long ago? (Pacé Francois Villon, "Where are the snow[shoveler]s of yesteryear?") What happened to civic pride and neighborliness? Why have we become such awful slobs?

I don't mean to congratulate myself only. That would be pharisaical ("I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as other men, even as this neighbor of mine who can't be bothered to get out and clear his walk"). But what happened to our communities? And wouldn't it be better if we could figure out how to inculcate this sense of responsibility once again? Oh, I could come up with some answers, but I'm afraid they would simply be the usual things that conservatives complain about (or if I listened to some of my colleagues, the usual things that progressives complain about). But I really don't know.

I just know that the world would be better if we all bestirred ourselves to make it better, each in whatever way we can. And that if we showed more care in what we should do for our immediate society, instead of in what the larger society should do for us, I suspect we would not only make others happier, but ourselves as well.

Virtuously yours,

Frosty the Polar Bear


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