Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recycling Day

I always regard garbage and recycling day with a mix of wonderment and dread. The wonderment comes from being able to have the debris and detritus of modern existence whisked away with almost no effort at all on my part. The cart has wheels, and the truck has an automated lift which makes the entire process seem clean and easy. Sanitation indeed.

The dread? I worry about my stuff being rejected by the recycling guy. There are rules governing what can and cannot be recycled, and the recycling guy goes through our bin item by item, sorting the glass from the plastic, the aluminum from the tin, the corrugated cardboard from the newsprint. He is also on the lookout for noncomplying plastic products and pasteboard. When he finds such products, instead of turning the bin upside down on the sidewalk, he leaves it upright with the offending items left inside. This is a Wednesday Scarlet Letter, an unwashable damn-ed spot in plain view of all my neighbors. The sign of a bad recycler.

Sometimes I peek out the front door as the recycling process is carried out, but not often. The recycling guy has a sixth sense about being watched. His penetrating stare pierces the frosted glass and wood of my front door hideout. He knows I'm there, my presence making him even more surly than usual.

You think I'm making this up? Remember, just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

This whole recycling guy problem is the direct result of giving people the power to decide. When George W. Bush called himself "the Decider", he was assuming the authority of his high office. He was not elected to be the "Facilitator in Chief". Actually, he wasn't elected at all, but that's another subject.

Anyway, when you grant a person the right to decide for themselves, you grant them personhood along with power. This process may be used for the greater good, as in Paulo Freire's work with the peasants of Peru, in community organizing, or in allowing people more control over their own medical treatment. Or, giving people the right to decide might result in them becoming intoxicated by power, lording it over others in a sadistic display that screams, "I am now a person, and you are not!"

And that's why I dread recycling day.

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