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Friday, February 17, 2017

Gemilut Hasadim, Acts of Loving Garbage

                                                                                                            February, 2017

Dear Family and Friends:

I am indeed fortunate to live in Bloomington, Indiana.  Besides the great university that brings music, art, even Broadway to town, I find this town filled with folks who want to do good things for others.  Bloomington is like an oasis of liberal and caring people in the very conservative state of Indiana.  Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of narrow-minded, let’s go back to the 1950’s folk as well. But what stands out in my mind are those around me who actively work to make this a better world.  Just among the small circle of people we know there are those advocating for abused children in our court system, those promoting solar energy, friends working to help settle refugees in Bloomington, folks working to ease the homeless problems here, interfaith initiatives, Muslim/Jewish relations, groups promoting less use of plastic bags in grocery stores, and on and on.  It is quite inspirational to think that so many people in this small community are concerned about the world, the future, equality, and safety for all.

But what I really want to talk to you about is garbage.  That’s right; garbage.  You see, every Monday morning around 8:30 our garbage men arrive to collect the trash.  You know the drill.  I think it must be the same everywhere.  At least it has always been this way wherever I have lived.  It goes like this.  The garbage truck, which looks like a hump-backed whale with its tail cut off, comes lumbering down the block…one person up front driving and one or two hanging off the back ready to attack the cans.  Just before the truck comes to a complete stop the tail-boys jump off.  One to the other side of the street and one to my yard.  First they throw off the can lids and frisbee them into the yard.  Then dump the trash into the truck and toss the can toward the house.  Now it does not bother me to find my can lying somewhere on the front lawn and the lid somewhere else.  That’s just the way it is.  These trash men have a tough job.  They work in all sorts of weather, have a large territory to cover and so must work quickly.  Well, not always.

Our across the street neighbor is Dick.  He’s a retired Indiana University professor who has lived in his house over sixty years.  You see, Dick is 98 years old.  Nevertheless, every Sunday night he wheels his trash can out to the curb.  Somehow the garbage crew knows that there is a senior, senior, senior citizen living in that house.  I watch them gather his trash.  But I also see that just after sailing my trash can through the air they put the lid on Dick’s can and walk it all the way up his driveway and place it next to his garage door.  This seems to me to be such an act of loving kindness that once I waited outside for the truck to come so I could tell them how much I appreciated the way they cared for my neighbor, Dick. 

Sometimes, if we just look around, we can see human beings caring for other human beings.  From the Bill Gates foundation to the garbage men on my street, there is good happening in this world.  Let’s hold on to that thought during these troubling times.