To Infinity and Beyond

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Dear Mr. President,

I hear that you want to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Department of Defense. I’m not sure what particulars that you have in mind, so I wanted to make a few comments and ask a few questions. First and foremost I simply wonder why such a step even seems necessary. I mean it’s not as if space is suddenly crowded with military type drills that threaten the world. The International Space Station is perhaps one of the greatest and most peaceful joint ventures ever attempted, a scientific research lab for the world if you will. It appears to be doing fine without need of defense, and I don’t see enemy nations attempting to overtake it any time soon. It takes quite a bit of public effort to get there, so we shouldn’t have to worry that there will be some sort of stealth invasion in the near future.

Does this mean that the Pentagon will have to become the Hexagon? Can we really afford to spend taxpayers funds to rebuild when we have a perfectly good space campus right here in Houston, Texas called NASA? In case nobody told you we actually have a nice layout that is already staffed with engineers and scientists and even some well trained astronauts who are tan, fit and ready to travel into outer space. The unit has been a bit neglected of late with lowered funding curtailing their activities, but they have a fairly impressive resume of accomplishments. They’ve sent men to the moon more than once and they have already managed to get live photo feeds from Mars. Would these guys become the first Space Cadets? As the originator of the Space Force might you become Space Cadet in Chief?

I hear that your generals are against this plan. It seems that they are up to their eyeballs in wartime efforts here on earth and don’t feel that they have either the manpower or the finances to begin such a daunting project. Besides, they are not totally sure about the purpose of such a grand move. They are a bit befuddled by the suddenness of the announcement and the vagueness of the details. They worry about using human and monetary resources when the need might be better met by other governmental agencies. Is there really a demand to defend space, and do you understand that the universe is a really big place. Are you willing to expand our military to infinity and beyond?

I find myself wondering if you know something that the rest of us don’t know. Is there finally proof that aliens have indeed been to visit earth? If so, are there plans to include rules for them in future immigration plans? Will we need to confer and collaborate with other nations since this would be a worldwide problem? If so, then perhaps you may want to make nice with the members of G7 since you dissed them a bit at the last conference. Then again I wonder if you are attempting to keep aliens from coming here or if your plan is to keep most of the world from going into space. Will all of this necessitate a wall? What will it look like and what are your enforcement plans?

My guess is that there may actually be young people who would like to become members of the Space Force since becoming an astronaut is so difficult. Will there be local recruiting stations or will the troops be created from those in the five branches of the military that already exist? Has anyone come up with an idea for a uniform, a song, and maybe even an academy? Will there be annual football games featuring Army vs. Space? It sounds as though there is some potential for a great deal of fun along with the hard work.

I know that our veterans are struggling in so many ways. Do you think that you will be able to improve life for them while still generating enough interest and funding for a whole new branch? Just sayin…

My understanding of the Constitution is that Congress will have to approve such a change. Have you discussed the issues and possibilities with them or was this simply one of your spur of the moment ideas that popped out of your mouth without aforethought? I’m not trying to be rude, I was just taken by surprise and I wonder if the members of the House and Senate may have felt the same way. With so many real issues to tackle does this actually appear to be the right time for something that surely can wait until things are a bit calmer? I mean, we are rather overwhelmed these days paying for seven hundred dollar a night shelters for immigrants among other things.

Finally I just have to ask because it is driving me crazy. Is it even remotely possible that you are in fact a representative from another planet? I’m a very observant person and there are times when you don’t seem to be one of us. You struggle with the English language and your ideas are often way out there. I often find myself scratching my head in wonderment that you are so disconnected to the realities right here on earth. There is a different kind of nature about you that I at first attributed to the fact that you grew up in a kind of bubble inside a wealthy home in New York City, but what if you are indeed the first of many from a world to come. After all you do have a kind of hypnotic effect on many people who are willing to support you almost mindlessly. It reminds me a bit of old sci-fi movies like The Invasion of The Body Snatchers”

Anyway, I would love to have a few more details about the Space Force as I’m sure most Americans and citizens of the rest of world would as well. Please keep us informed insofar as possible. Be aware the big moves done too quickly tend to freak us out. Also remember that you are not supposed to be singlehandedly changing the face of the nation. Your job is to manage what is already here and to work with the duly designated lawmakers in Congress. I sometimes think that you have become a bit confused in that regard.

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When In The Course Of Human Events

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July 4th is a national holiday celebrating our country, but mostly recalling the unanimous Declaration of Independence of the thirteen united States of America. I believe that it is worth reading and studying the entirety of the actual document conceived and written by our nation’s founders. At least once each year it is incumbent upon us to carefully consider their words to determine whether or not we are living up to their courage and intentions. Take a few minutes to consider the meaning and importance of this document and then decide how to perform your own personal duties as a citizen of these now fifty united States of America. 

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

God Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise

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Ladybird Johnson was a Texan through and through. Growing up in east Texas she adopted mannerisms and a style of speaking that is unique to our state. One of her best quotes always reminds me of my own mother, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” My mama rarely gave a definitive RSVP to an invitation. Her assents were invariably prefaced with a “God willing” admonition. She often cautioned us to consider that events beyond our control might suddenly change even the best of plans. The sudden and very unexpected death of my father only served to demonstrate the wisdom of her thinking. I often find my self tentatively setting dates on my calendar that I hope will come to pass, knowing that the good Lord may have other ideas in mind. On this July 3, I am reminded all too well of the whimsy and challenges of life.

A year ago I was enjoying one of many events that would entertain me in the summer of 2017. I had already travelled to Cancun for a beautiful wedding and was luxuriating in the promise of more joy to come. My husband and I were spending the Fourth of July holiday with all of our children and grandchildren in San Antonio. Later in the month we were scheduled to camp with friends in east Texas near where Ladybird grew up. In August we planned to drive to a mountain cabin in Colorado to meet up with one of my brothers and his family to relax and hike, and then go to Wyoming to watch the total eclipse in one of the best vantage points in the country.

God willing it was going to be a fun filled summer, but things began to unravel without warning. On July 3, after enjoying breakfast and lunch with our family we were in the process of deciding what to do for the remainder of the day when we heard banging and a faint voice from the guest bathroom. Our inspection of the source of the noises lead us to the discovery of my husband Mike lying on the floor unable to rise on his own. It was immediately apparent from the crooked line of his mouth and the slurring of his words that he was having a stroke. From there life changed in ways for which I had no plans.

Of course we cancelled the camping with friends, the travel to the mountain cabin and the journey to view the eclipse. Our attention was focused entirely on making Mike healthy again. After his release from the hospital we returned home to Houston to begin a year long regimen of visits to doctors, healthier diets, exercise and enjoying life quietly from day to day. We had been warned that there is a statistical danger of another stroke that is most likely to occur within the first three to six months after the initial one. Needless to say I hovered over Mike like a hawk, noting his every breath, listening for signs of trouble. We were instructed not to go to isolated areas or places without cell phone reception and good hospitals, so we mostly stayed at home.

We watched the eclipse here in Houston along with others who had crowded into the Museum of Natural History in Hermann Park. The was not as dramatic as it might have been because it was not directly over our city, but we felt grateful that Mike was still here to enjoy whatever slice of life he was afforded. Only days after we heard on the news that the proverbial creek might rise here in Houston from the predicted rains of hurricane Harvey. We did not leave to find a safer place because we wanted to be near the Houston Medical Center if anything happened to Mike, and besides we could never have imagined how bad the historic weather event might actually be. We hunkered down as instructed by a county commissioner and waited for the storm to pass, only it took its precious time in doing so. In the process of constant rain for three day our little neighborhood became an island in a sea of flooding that was overtaking Houston and surrounding areas like Noah’s epic torrent. How could I have ever known just how much our creeks were going to rise? Who had ever even heard of 51 inches of rain in a single event?

It’s been a year since our trials began on July 3. Mike has not had another stroke, and God willing he never will. Houston has mostly healed but we still shudder when storms come our way. I suspect that we have an entire population suffering from a form of PTSD. I still worry from time to time and have not yet been able to plan the kind of adventures that I have always loved. I find myself tempering my enthusiasm for coming events with the realization that they may or may not come to pass. Our biggest journey in the last twelve months was a five hour trip to east Texas to visit with a former neighbor who is now in her eighties. Being with her was a healing experience for us because we have learned all too well the importance of embracing those that we love as often and as tightly as we can.

Some great friends were not as lucky as we were last year. I attended far too many funerals and still think about the wonderful people that I will no longer see. My home was spared from the damages of the floods, but people that I know had to deal with the horrors of  water rushing inside their houses. It took months for their lives to return to normal. In an ironic turn of events I experienced a small slice of their trauma when my own domicile was damaged from a rush of water coming from the hot water heater. Eight weeks of frustration later we returned to normal, but not without a taste of just how terrible the suffering of the flood victims had actually been.

We’re wiser and far more grateful for even the tiniest joys than I was a year ago. We’ll spend July 4, in San Antonio hoping for a better outcome than last year.  We’re also looking forward to finally completing the plans to camp with good friends in October, and it looks as though we may get another chance to view a total eclipse of the sun when it comes right over Texas a few years from now. There is much for which to be happy and new adventures ahead, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.”

The Best Gift of All

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My mom loved to purchase gifts for everyone that she knew. Because she had so little money she was always searching for something that was inexpensive and also uniquely suited for the individual. Sometimes that meant that it would be a package of the person’s favorite cookies or a special box of candy. She took great joy in bringing a smile to someone’s face and the things that she purchased were always backed up with a great deal of love.

As I look back on her life I realize that the best gifts that she ever gave me my brothers were intangible, and I didn’t really appreciate them as much as I might have when she was still alive. As more and more years go by since her passing I find myself valuing them them more and more. Of course our education was something for which she would sacrifice without hesitation. While she was very careful with her finances, when it came to learning she somehow always found the means to get us whatever we needed whether it be monetary or her time. In the end, however, it was the gift of faith that was more important to her than anything else that she might have done for us.

She was a truly godly woman who was a living example of the lessons of love that Jesus taught. Her faith in God was unwavering even in the very darkest of hours. She read the Bible daily and truly believed that the Lord was her protector. She often reassured us that His plan was always at work and that in the end we would all be okay. She rarely worried about material things, insisting that God especially loved widows and promised that He would watch over them.

I admittedly sometimes questioned her eternal optimism, especially in light of the difficulties that seemed to be so unfairly heaped on her. I often had my own conversations with God in which I would express my anger that she had to suffer so much. I didn’t seem right that she should not only lose her beloved husband when she was only thirty, but would then be afflicted with mental illness. I would literally ask God why he was picking on her when she was such a good a faithful servant. When I once mentioned my concerns to her, she smiled sweetly and insisted that God had never been anything but good to her. She told me to search instead for the blessings bestowed on our family and urged me to be more thankful.

When death came knocking on my mother’s door she was ready, not because she wished to leave a hard life, but because she believed with all of her heart that she was about to embark on a heavenly adventure that would be glorious. While she lay dying her face literally radiated with an ethereal joy and whenever anyone asked her how she was doing she smiled and pointed to heaven with a twinkle in her eyes. It was hard to lose such a special person, but it was also difficult to be too sad because we all understood that she had been ready for the ultimate fate that we all will one day face. She not only embraced the end, but she was overjoyed in the belief that something far better lay ahead for her. It was a comfort to all of us. Her faith was visceral, something that nobody doubted. She was as giving to us at the very end as she had been throughout our lives.

It’s been seven years since my mother died and I have found myself missing her in so many ways. I often think of the fun that we had together and long to hear her laugh again. I want to share stories of her great-grandchildren with her and walk with her up and down the aisles of Walmart. On a hot day I think of how much fun it would be to take her down to the beach and slurp on ice cream cones. Mostly though I meditate on her love of God, and I realize how much joy He gave to her. I find myself relying more and more on Him in my own way, and I want to spread the good news that she taught me to my own children and grandchildren. I realize more than ever how much my mother’s faith truly protected her and me and my brothers, and now it serves as a stalwart for me in her absence. It is comforting for me to know that she is enjoying a heavenly life without any of the pain that once seemed to follow her here on earth. Mostly though it has given me a way of coping with the inevitable problems that exist here on earth.

When my mother was dying the nurses noted that they did not always see as uplifting an end as she had. I suppose that if one truly thinks that death is all there is, it is frightening devastating. Because my mom convinced me that she was simply going to a new and wonderful place where I would one day be reunited with her, I felt less of a sense of finality. Somehow it has been as though she and my father and all of the other souls who meant so much to me are actually still very much with me. Not only do they live in me, but I believe that they are angels who watch over me.

I suppose that there are those who will laugh at my thoughts. They do not believe in some higher power or heavenly domain. They think that we live and then we die, period full stop. Of course they are entitled to their opinions, but I am so happy that my mother took the time to show me her way. From her example I have learned how to lead a purposeful life and I believe with every inch of my heart that God is with me now, always has been and always will be. I have managed to endure many horrific experiences because I have felt His presence, and of late He appears to be more with me than ever.

My God is a protector, a distributor of love. He is good and wants us to be that way as well. My mother understood as well as anyone what it meant to lead a faith filled life. I doubt that she ever had an enemy anywhere and I can’t think of anyone that she disliked. She never questioned the hardships that came her way. In fact even when her mental illness reduced her to a state of depression and psychosis the voice of God somehow reverberated in her addled mind, telling her that things would soon be okay. Her psychiatrists all said that she was enigmatic in that she never lost hope, not even when her brain was making her unable to do anything but cry in the dark. She fought against her illness with medication and therapy, but mostly with her faith.

I know that not everyone is so blessed to have such a selfless and loving parent. I pray continuously for those who feel lost and abandoned. I wish for them the kind of serenity that my mother passed on to me. She always told me that God cares for us whether or not was ask Him to or even believe that He will. That is such a powerful thought. I just wish that everyone feel the power that it brings

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Doing The Right Thing In Our Own Backyards

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Back in 2001 a group of city workers came into my backyard while I was gone to “trim” the large trees that grew all over the neighborhood. They left a tangle of branches that literally covered the expanse. My azaleas were mangled from the affront on them as the huge sections of the trees fell carelessly down to the ground. It was a stunning and unexpected mess, but I assumed that a crew would soon enough remove the debris as part of the work, so I tried to remain calm.

A week went by and then two until it became obvious to me that somehow my yard had been forgotten as the tree trimmers moved along in their work. Still attempting to be kind I called around and found out from the city of Houston that it had indeed been a mistake on the part of the crew to leave the tangle of trees branches. I was assured that the matter would be resolved within a few days. Unfortunately yet another week passed with no sign of the expected cleanup. I could see that my grass was beginning to grow yellow which fueled by temper. When I phoned the city again I was in no mood for excuses and demanded action. After a great deal of paper shuffling I was told that according to records my backyard should have been one hundred percent free of the refuse.

It’s a good thing that I was not speaking to the clerk in person because I’m not sure that I would have been able to contain myself. After insisting that I was going to stay on the line until I was able to talk with a supervisor I finally spoke with a quite official sounding man who patronized me from the get go. Essentially he apologized for the confusion and assured me that my name and address would be placed on a list. He noted that city workers were on a new project in my area and they would come to my house as soon as they had finished that task.

Somehow I felt caught in a bureaucratic nightmare that I suspected was never going to end. I suspected that I might have to visit a city council meeting armed with photographs or even attempt to see the mayor. In the meantime my lovely backyard was suffering and I realized that it was going to die if I didn’t take charge and do the labor myself. The problem was that it was an incredibly overwhelming task. Nonetheless I made mental plans to get to work on the weekend if nobody had come by then to take responsibility.

Within a day or so, my emotions were focused on something far graver and more important than my landscape. I had watched in horror as the twin towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed from a terrorist attack. I was in a state of disbelief and horror that evening and needed something to keep my mind busy. I looked out the window at the mess that had so enraged me and decided it was a good time to begin the process of taking control of the situation. I went to work and began cutting up the huge limbs and carrying the pieces one by one to the front yard for pick up by the garbage man. After an hour or so I had not made a visible dent, but the sweat labor had been good for my state of mind. I was accomplishing something in a world gone mad.

After a time some of my neighbors began to notice my trips back and forth and without saying a word they joined me in my efforts. None of us were in the mood for conversation, so we just worked on reducing that pile of destruction one branch at a time. Before long the curb was laden with enough wood to make a nifty bonfire and the azaleas along my fence line were once again visible, looking a bit worse for wear but still very much alive. When the sun began to set we had not completed the task, but we had made a very good start. Over the coming days we would finish the project while also watching the work of digging out that was taking place in New York City. Ultimately my yard was returned to its former lovely state, and with much more effort New York City rose from the ashes of that dreadful day.

I learned then that seemingly impossible tasks begin with small efforts and then grow to fruition with cooperation and determination. It reminded me of the old stories of stone soup and Johnny Appleseed in which the important thing was to make a start and then work together for a worthy and common cause. When I recently saw a post from a friend I was inspired all over again. The suggestion was for each person who visited a beach to pick up and dispose of three pieces of garbage. If we all followed that idea over time we would soon have far more pristine waters. There were comments from several individuals insisting that the problems with pollution and garbage are so big that such a plan would not even scratch the surface, but I found myself enchanted with the idea. It seems to me that most beaches have enough visitors each day that the combined endeavors of each person would be huge. Think about our waters getting a daily cleaning from everyone willing to spend probably less than a minute to dispose of trash that they see. I thought of ways to expand this idea to all sorts of places including city streets, and I became quite excited by the possibilities. What if we carried some of those cheap disposable gloves with us so that we might be ready to spiffy things up wherever we go? Surely with a nationwide concentration on doing such things we would do wonders.

I once worked in one of the KIPP schools and they had a rule for the students, “Leave any place that you go better than you found it.” It meant that our kids not only cleaned up after themselves but took the initiative to take care of any additional problems that they found. Our big crews made quick work of the process of caring for our environment. Why can’t we make this a way of life for everyone?

Sometimes we expend a great deal of time and emotion complaining about situations just as I did with the mess in my backyard. While the city workers were indeed responsible I was actually hurting myself by refusing to rectify the situation on my own. We so often see a bad situation and then want someone else to take care of it. Maybe we should begin to think about doing the right thing in our own backyards.