Even though I don’t feel that old, I’ve not only lived through the last Ice Age but now I’ve also been able to navigate through the deadly specter of Global Warming. However, all this has been replaced by another haunting danger, Climate Change.
If you are old enough, you remember that there was an environmental scare that began in the early 1970′s which proclaimed that our waste and living habits were causing the earth to usher in the next Ice Age. Then a decade or two later, we were accosted by Global Warming. Now it appears that in these few short years, I’ve passed through these threats only to be battling Climate Change.
Frankly, I was just getting used to the cold when Global Warming was ushered into the environment. The past few years of Florida’s freezing winters make me almost yearn for the good, old days of Global Warming.
Before all the environmental scares asking us to conserve energy and eliminate waste, I was reusing and repurposing everything that passed through our household. In the 1960′s and 70′s, my children and the teenagers in my youth group used to mock me because I was constantly “reusing” almost everything. I was a cheapskate because paper grocery bags were carefully folded and securely tucked between my water heater and the wall waiting for their next life. To some observers, I was a hoarder when jars and bottles were put under the sink for another day’s journey. When old newspapers were used to wrap broken glass and other garbage so that the trash wouldn’t hurt anyone or smell, I was mocked with yucks and ughs.
Medicine bottles, egg cartons, plastic containers were valuable commodities resurrected into different objects because of their reuse. We even repaired our TV’s and stereo sets rather than buying new ones. I recovered old furniture. A sharp butcher knife became our lawn edging tool; and my scissors were a magical piece of equipment with multiple purposes that saved us from buying objects that were “purdy” but we really didn’t need.
Now the schools and all forms of media shout to the world about waste and that is a great thing. However, it kinda annoys me. This is the same group of folks who mocked my efforts to make do, rather than replace.
In the same vein, it was people of my generation who forced institutions for people with intellectual disabilities to close because these parents said to the professional community, “My daughter (or son) is part of our family and we won’t put her away. She will come home with us and she will be raised by us.” The families were mocked and ridiculed for their naive thinking by many people who believed they knew what was best.
The actions of these loving families saved our nation billions and billions of dollars over the next 40 or 50 years. Additionally, their children have become the employees who are THRILLED to do the jobs that no one else will do. As a result, the mentally challenged community has become taxpaying citizens.
Yet, in the time of budget cuts, so many things are being defunded or replaced with less and less. The mentally challenged community understands the situation that we have made for ourselves through waste and fraud. They know that things are changing and their services will be reduced. As a community, they are more than willing to do their part. However, in some states, when many other line-items in the state budget are increased in the newly passed legislature, the budget for these courageous men and women with disabilites was greatly reduced.
Perhaps it’s time to remember the billions of dollars that have been saved by these careful, loving parents and reclaim the heritage that they fought to make possible for their children.