While I was making coffee this morning, I had a flashback to my grandparents kitchen in Coral Gables. I distinctly remember that my "abuelito" (Spanish for grandpa) would dutifuly get the kitchen back to "you could eat off the floors" condition after every dinner. His duties included washing the dishes by hand and taking out the trash. For some reason, I have vivid memories of my grandfather folding every box and milk carton very carefully before placing them into the trash can. He did this to conserve space in the small receptacle, which was always lined with a brown paper grocery bag, which came from Winn-Dixie. You might say my grandfather was an early model trash compactor!
I remember walking with abuelito across his backyard, which was covered by a thick carpet of centipede grass, to the garbage cans that were located in the back right corner of their yard, next to the banana trees and coffee bushes they had planted in their garden. As if it were yesterday, I can see him carefully placing the trash bag from the kitchen, which he packed meticulously, into the large garbage cans in the back yard. What strikes me now is that he would trustingly take out the trash each night in open bags. I say "trustingly" because it never occurred to him that someone might rummage through their trash to steal sensitive information. The reason it never occurred to him is that sort of thing did not happen in the early-1960s.
As I was growing up, I often heard my grand parents say that, when they first moved to Miami in 1945, they did not even lock their doors to their cars or homes. I also remember them describing Miami as "paradise."
This may seem like a long way of making my point but, since I can remember (basically a 50-year stretch) "things" have gotten progressively worse in our country. Today, many of us shred our sensitive papers and would never take the garbage out in open containers. It is very unlikely that we would leave our homes without locking the doors and arming our security systems, if not ourselves.
As I sit here an reflect on the past 50 years, I wonder why things have gotten progressively worse. I wonder if we (the people) could have done anything to prevent things from deteriorating so much. I wonder if our elected officials could have done anything to stop the slide.
Then, as I think about the news of today -- the raging debate over what to do about gun violence, our deeply divided country, our Newtowns, our sports heroes, our environment, the hatred the intolerance, the indifference; everything -- I wonder what things will be like 50 years from now. I wonder if we (the people) will do anything to prevent things from deteriorating further. I wonder if there is anything we can do. I wonder if our elected officials will do anything to keep things from sliding away any further. I wonder if we should count on those elected officials to take action on our behalf.
As I sit here and sip my pinion-infused coffee from Trader Joe's, I wonder. I really wonder what "things" will be like 50 years from today.
I also wish I could share this cup of coffee with abuelito right now and ask him what he thinks about all this.
And, you know what? To this day, I fold every box and every milk carton before I place it into the trash receptacle just like my abuelito did.