This week’s Ipukarea opinion piece was written by Te Ipukarea Society Executive Member June Hosking. Title is taken from Hebrews 10:24-25
One day recently I observed a young Cook Islands couple with their toddler who had just thrown a tiny piece of rubbish. What happened next still makes me smile.
You see, earlier that day when considering ways to effect positive change for our environment, I questioned the impact of ‘Clean the World Day’… what does it achieve? Is there less rubbish found each year as a result or is this just an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?
That very morning, whilst walking dogs, I picked up 2 plastic containers, a plastic cap, straw and cup half-filled with red slush, and a disposable nappy left near the rising tide line!!!
Thinking of the trash I had just recently picked up, my memories flew back to 2004, when I was chatting with my oldest son (then in his late teens) after a fun Manea Games day of traditional sports. We observed snack packets etc blowing in the wind, I sighed in frustration. ‘There are no bins around, is it not obvious that rubbish should be taken home?!!’
My son, on the other hand, skips over the wall and gathers the rubbish blowing up against the graves and church. I join him, embarrassed at my initial unhelpful reaction.
Forward to 2008 after celebrating a successful first Lagoon Day. It’s late at night, the venue was now silent, and I found a good amount of rubbish left under the staff tables – really??? And so it goes, I could fill volumes of trash with such discouraging first-hand accounts.
Now, fast forward to late 2022, I’m outside a shop in time to see a young Cook Islands couple and toddler who has just thrown a tiny piece of rubbish. I can’t be sure, but I think it was a plastic straw wrapper from a drink box. Mum was not at all happy and the toddler, quickly realising she shouldn’t have tossed it, was about to shoot onto the road to get it. Mum held her firmly and called for Dad to go fetch. He, a little reluctant, went in search of the tiny piece of plastic just under the back of a parked car. This could have been a good excuse for giving up, but no… he bent down and retrieved the plastic and all was put right. I congratulated them both for their wonderful example.
I don’t know who they were, but I wish I had thought to also thank them for encouraging me, for letting me see that some things have changed for the better. Perhaps they were an exception to the rule, but I choose to think that those years of educating, advocating and attempting to be good stewards of what God has given us may be having positive impact after all.
So, to those who sometimes get tired of doing what is right… be encouraged. After a while you will reap a harvest of blessing.
And to those who care about even the tiny bits of rubbish, meitaki!