Whatever happened to personal responsibility?
I was quite surprised that so many people commented on the letter in Today's newspaper. We have sent in our reply to the letter.
The thing that was a twist to me is that the writer of the letter wanted cat caregivers to pick up dog defecation. Now I can understand if the writer was upset there was food leftover - and today in fact, we were just telling the town council that if they do have recalcitrant feeders who do not listen and refuse pick up, they should fine them. This is similar to ANY other situation. The town council said it was difficult to tell the difference between someone feeding responsibly and someone who was not, and I told them in fact it wasn't. For example, if someone cleans up, it's feeding. If they leave food, it's littering. If someone is eating a sandwich on a bench, it's eating. If they toss the sandwich wrapper on the floor, it's littering.
The thing is - no one wants litter. No one wants leftover food. However in this case, the writer is upset with dog defecation - so why not speak with the dog owners who are irresponsible (and who make up a minority of dog owners)? Alternatively, why not just pick up? Obviously it bothers the writer enough to write in, so why not do something? Why ask someone else unrelated to pick up dog defecation? Because they're all animals? Because cat caregivers are the ONLY people living in the estate?
It is sad that this is what is happening - that people are pushing responsibility on to other people. I saw a letter the other day bemoaning lack of courtesy and then asking what the authorities are going to do about it. People are so used to looking to someone else - the government, other residents, the schools - that they have forgotten that they are the best people to effect change.
Not happy with dog defecation? Talk to the irresponsible dog owner. See someone throwing cat food around? Speak to that irresponsible feeder. Upset that people are throwing cans on the street? Talk to the person littering. If you can write a letter, you can speak to the people involved. Or you could start a community project to do something about it.
When I visit the US, there's a park near where I live and the park is maintained by residents. They have a group of volunteers who take care of the park because they feel it's THEIR park. They have a little group to look after the park. They set up little bins in the park with plastic bags so that dog owners can get easy access to plastic bags to pick up defecation. Other residents of the community donate their plastic bags to this endeavour. If you don't pick up, other people will ask you to. I have to say I don't think I've seen defecation in the park and I jog there too.
The idea there is - if you don't do it, no one else will, so you better do something. Here it seems more and more people seem to think, it's not up to me to do it, let's see who I can shove this responsibility to. And that's worrying for our society as a whole.
Caregivers on the other hand, are people who care about the community and who are actively doing something positive for it. Just because they're assuming responsibility for one thing - ie sterilising and managing the cats - doesn't mean they're responsible for EVERYTHING. If anything, they're already doing more for the community than other residents are.