If we are each endowed with rights, I think that we are each endowed with responsibility, too. A responsibility to make the world around us a little better. My Mom always encouraged me to leave it a little better than I found it. I am grateful for that advice.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in our own day, so much so that we don’t think about the ripple effect of our actions. There’s a commercial on television that shows one person’s act of kindness overflowing to the next and to the next. That’s a great example of a positive ripple effect.
Last week at the complex where I live, someone tossed out some old blinds. Instead of taking them apart and bagging them to go in the compactor, they just left them in front of the compactor door. When the next person brought trash, it must have seemed that the compactor was broken so they just left their trash there, too. And before long, there was a cascading effect that turned into this:
It may be hard to see, but the trash goes all the way down the stairs. Perhaps as many as 30 bags of trash were left there, first one, then another, because someone else had. It was a negative ripple effect. And it happens more often than you’d imagine. It was inconvenient perhaps for the first person to do the right thing, and that led to other folks believing the compactor wasn’t functioning, so they left there trash, and so on. Now many of these folks left garbage as they were driving out to go to work, and when they came home, it was all cleaned up. So they may have had no idea how bad it got before someone else had to intervene to make it better.
I snapped the picture because I was so angry, and then I realized … how is this playing out in my own life? Why does this bother me so much. And I think it boils down to the sense of personal responsibility and the impact we have on the world around us. We should strive to do things that have a positive effect on the world. Not leave a mess in our wake for someone else to clean up.
If we could see that effect, like this pile of garbage, would we make different decisions? Would we treat each other better, treat ourselves better?
You may not be able to see it, but the ripple effect of your actions stretch further than you know, for good, or for naught. Make more ripples for good, OK?