The Everglades is dirty. I definitely did not expect to find a place
littered with everything from beer bottles to discarded pieces of clothing.
I shouldn't have been surprised by what I found, though. Everywhere around
us there is an array of old, forgotten articles that have been left on the
street. These, I think, serve as constant reminders of our lives. They are
our mark on the world.
Libraries, museums, buildings, homes, personal articles, all these are our
marks on the world. I think litter can also be a mark. It's how we stake
out our areas. Our homes are filled with trash. Businesses are filled
with it too. The dark corners and park benches of our world are also
occasionally bombarded by leftovers.
All this is really sad. Just the other day, I was leaving home and heading
for FIU when the person in the car in front of me decided to toss his empty
Wendy's cup out of the window and onto the street below. I got mad. I was
tempted to get out of my car and yell at him, or at least pick up the cup.
Soon enough, though, the light turned green and I just went my way. I kept
thinking about the cup now marking the intersection between NW 47th Ave.
and NW 7th St., but decided there was nothing to do about it.
Then, later that day, our Feature Writing professor told us to write a
story about a social issue that concerned us. He went around the room
asking everyone what they would write about. Most of my classmates spoke
about the excessive violence on TV, women's issues, and even the war in
Iraq. I thought about the cup. I was the only one who mentioned the
environment, pollution, or conservation. My professor listened to my ideas,
then looked at me and asked, "Is this really the issue that concerns you
I have to admit, I was a little shocked and hurt at his question. Did he
think I just spat out the first thing that popped into my head without
thinking it through? Did he think that I am an odd or insensitive person
because I happen to be more concerned about the state of our world than the
state of our fellow human beings? Does he not understand that pollution
affects everyone? Or that it is perhaps the greatest cause of all because
without this nice planet of ours none of the other so-called great social
issues will matter? I defended my answer; he went on with class.
A few days later I ran into a friend at the library. We began discussing
class. She asked me if I was still planning on doing my story on the
environment. "That sounds kind of boring," she said. I suppose she had a
point. A story about the inanimate environment can be a lot duller than
her idea of doing a story about people suffering from clinical depression. I'm still thinking of a way to make the story more real. I'm trying to figure out a way to make the environment have a voice and a face and a personality so that readers can identify with it. It isn't going too well.
All these factors: a cup on the road, hundreds of beer bottles along the
road, my professor's and friend's disbelief in my most important cause,
have been weighing on my mind. I find it hard to believe that people are
really that callous when it comes to protecting the one thing they can't
live without. Maybe they don't realize that regardless of how much money
they have or how great their life is going, if the world suddenly becomes
a toxic wasteland none of that will matter. Or maybe they don't want to
think about such possibilities.
So, I sit here at my computer thinking what I can do to better the
situation. Will writing a really great, not-so-boring article for the
dreaded Feature Writing class really make such a difference? Maybe, but
first I have to think of a really great idea and combine that with really
great research, interviews and words to make it work. If I am able to do
that, I wonder how my classmates will react when I read my story out loud
in front of class. What will their comments be? Will they comment on the
context as well as the style and execution of the story?
All this remains to be seen. My main concern is just writing the freaking
story. I am sad to say that despite the fact that I've been taking this
Everglades class and that I've been concerned about pollution and the
environment for as long as I can remember, I'm finding it increasingly
difficult to think of a way to write a story that won't be dreadfully
general or painfully boring. I thought I had an idea. Unfortunately, I
overanalyzed it and it disappeared, literally. For some reason I can't
even begin to fathom what that idea was. Time is now running out. I need
to get this done by Tuesday afternoon.
I want people to realize that the garbage they leave lying around is a
testament to the sometimes dubious priorities in our lives. I want them to
open their eyes and see that our garbage can easily become our legacy.
I'm not talking about power plants or pollution caused by cars. What I'm
talking about is much simpler: littering, wasting water and power. I think
we should first concentrate on ridding ourselves of bad habits such as
these before we can fully conquer the war against pollution and concentrate
on bigger issues.
Now, if only I could write an article about that and not make it be a bunch
of facts and statistics. I'll keep thinking of a way to make these issues,
which don't seem to weigh too heavily on some people's heads, pop out and
demand attention. Hopefully, I'll get this done before my class, otherwise
I hate to think what will happen if my professor calls on me and I have no
story to share with the rest of the class.