Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Better to Sow
Gray sky. Chill. The fall wind rolled leaves across the campus and blew my thinning hair. I walked past a group of energetic colorful students, busy around a recycling bin. A part of me ached to belong among them. I paused and a young lady enthusiastically told me how they were being "ecological." I smiled and walked away.
I did not tell those shiny happy people that I too had once been involved, years ago, when there was nothing environmental on campus. For a time, I had taken my turn at single handedly keeping the dream to recycle alive by rolling six pop can carts down to the loading dock. There I got up to my biceps in the grease and food that people forced inside the carts. The carts were so novel: for some folks those two little can sized holes were beyond their ken.
The Campus Recycling Committee patiently met each obstacle, worked things out, and evolved a system. So many details! It took us two years of serious meetings, I think, before, at last, the first six recycling carts were set out in Mac Hall.
All along I felt that some students disapproved, that we worked amid scorn and disbelief that we'd ever succeed. The campus was a little more conservative then. Once, in the shadow of a nuclear peace banner, a man told me it was "too hard on my psyche" to work on a hopeless cause. Since then the Berlin Wall has tumbled and scores of recycling bins have sprung up on campus.
As I walked away from those warm students on that cold fall day, I reflected that a few people will always find the hope, the belief, and the spirit to work for change.
And, under that grey sky, I knew one thing for sure.The old prophets were right... It is better to sow than to reap.
gazing at a future unseen,
originally published as a Viewpoint in The Gauntlet, our University of Calgary student newspaper, October 28, 1993