It's Not Us.It's What's Around Us
By Ron Ewart
May 23, 2007
A few nights ago, I watched the end of the movie Westside Story when Tony and Maria get together after the "rumble" and as they hug each other in frantic desperation of their declining predicament, in a trembling voice Maria says; "It's not us, Tony. It's what's around us." Maria was right. It's not us individually, it's what is around us collectively, that we tolerate and allow to grow like a cancer.
Most Americans are relatively decent people. They take care of their own, they pick up the trash, they take out the garbage, and generally try to make their "immediate" surroundings a decent place to live. Over the last 300 years, we have learned that filth and garbage breeds vermin and disease, and thus we have created ways to handle our garbage and our sewage, so that they don't poison us.
But what of our cities, our townships, our states, and our country? Have we done a good enough job of taking care of the filth, garbage, and pollution that infects our communities and poisons our bodies and our minds? No matter how "clean" we keep our own yards, if our neighbor's yard is a pig-sty and brings all the bad things that pig-sties spawn, are we not honor bound to work to help that neighbor see the light - before his garbage poisons us? Do we not have a duty to ourselves and that neighbor to show him that not only is he a danger to himself and his family from that filth, but he is also endangering us and the community as well? If our neighborhood harbors a bully that terrorizes all of us with fear and intimidation, can we stand by and let the bully take over our community? What if the police can't come? Then what?
There are all kinds of garbage and filth that pervade our lives, and it isn't necessarily the kind we can put in a can to be hauled off to the dump. Crime is a form of garbage. Corruption by individuals, corporations, unions, and governments is a form of garbage. Boorish, discourteous behavior is a form of garbage. Bullying, foreign or domestic, is a form of garbage. Apathy is an insidious form of garbage. Substandard, demeaning lyrics in a song can be garbage. Much of what our kids hear today is of that kind of garbage. Even though we keep our own homes clean and neat, we still allow this other form of garbage to "touch" us, one way or another, even if we choose to ignore it.
Our home is not just where we live day in and day out. Our home is also our community, our city, our county, our state, our country, and our flag. If we do not sponsor, advocate, and get involved in "picking up our collective garbage," we run the very high risk of becoming infected by it. And make no mistake, we are being infected.
A community of men, women, and children cannot survive without certain basic principles or rules to follow. Our first, most basic rule is the foundation of our freedom, our Constitution, and if we don't defend those "rules," our freedom will disappear. If we don't follow the rules of cleanliness, the consequences of such folly will haunt us, and can even do us in. If we don't follow the basic, simple rule of "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," our system of morality collapses. If our system of morality collapses, chaos reigns - and no police force in the world is large enough to reverse it.
There is a country song out there, I can't remember the name, in which one of the lines reads: "You surround yourself with people who demand so little of you." If we don't set high standards for ourselves, and allow lower standards for those with whom we associate, we continuously lower the bar of civility, and as it lowers, our whole culture sinks to cultural depravity.
So just keeping your own home clean and tidy is not enough. You must become involved in keeping your community, your city, your township, your county, your state, and your country clean: clean of garbage; clean of filth; clean of corruption; clean of crime; and clean of unacceptable standards of behavior. Your children parrot what you do. Set the standards low, and their behavior will follow, almost to the letter. Set them high, and they will parrot the best within you.
We simply cannot curl ourselves up in an apathetic bubble and expect to escape the ravages of a society that sinks ever deeper into cultural chaos. We cannot expect our police and garbage-men to do the job for us. We either, as a society, pick up our "collective garbage" and send it to the trash heap where it belongs, or end up being buried in it. The next time you say you are not going to get involved in "cleaning" up your community's "garbage," you are just another enabler of the decline of cleanliness, freedom, and liberty in America, and allow the pile of our community "garbage" to rise higher and higher.
If we do not set the "best that is within us" as our standard and set it as a society, as a culture and as a free nation, if we do not vigorously defend freedom, we shall surely go the way of all other cultures and nations that chose to ignore the "garbage" in their communities. It's not us individually, it is the community "garbage" around us, that will eventually do us in.
Ron Ewart, President NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RURAL LANDOWNERS P. O. Box 1031 Issaquah, WA 98027 Phone: 425 222-4742 or 1 800 682-7848 Fax: 425 222-4743
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