In 1983, I stewed about the U.S. invasion of Grenada, when Africanized honeybees
would make it to Oklahoma, a horrible new
infection called AIDS, and how each day’s
headlines would a;ect my little sister and
myself. I wondered if the world would exist
long enough for us to have our own families.
I was 7.
By age 10, I’d added Oliver North to my
prayer list, in addition to a new brother and
sister. This, despite being the o;spring of two
largely apolitical parents: a Democrat raised
by Republicans and a Republican raised by
There were many problems to solve —
including how to keep radon out of homes
and acid rain from eating the noses o;
irreplaceable European antiquities. Why did
our church deliver government cheese to
people? Why did one of the families live in
a broken-down school bus? Why didn’t the
parents have jobs? Why didn’t everyone “just
say no” as Nancy Reagan advised?
“Leave adult problems to the adults,” peo-
ple said, or, “It’s not nice to talk about politics
or religion,” and my favorite, “Hey, what do
you want for Christmas?”
That year I got three Snoopy Sno-cone
Adults saw my questions as political land
mines. I saw the actual problems, not the
discussions about them, as the land mines.
Today, every headline is a social media
land mine: collusion, election tampering,
impeachment, U.S. national debt, another
mass shooting, an opioid crisis, the Chinese
tari; war, an inverted yield curve and 50-50
chance of recession, negative interest rates
in Europe, human tra;cking, tax rates, the
border crisis, homeless veterans, not enough
foster families, too much regulation, not
enough regulation, electric vehicles, ethanol,
subsidies, hate, Rand Paul, RuPaul.
Somewhere between childhood and
adulthood, we tossed out our respectfulness
and niceties with the recycling, and they came
back in the form of public declarations on
what o;ends us and who is wrong.
Guilty. I’ve voiced my disdain for everyone
who has ever littered, zero exceptions given.
Turns out no hate is benign, and all hate is
We the people are the problem.
A few days ago, a guy in front me threw
something from his truck. My 12-year-old
called him a jerk — and I was proud.
He pulled out of line, and I pulled up to
the “litter” — his windshield wiper. It was
pouring, and his wiper had ;own o;. Now this
older gentleman was wading through tra;c
in the rain, looking for his lost wiper. I got out,
picked it up and walked it to him.
I’d wrongly judged a man according to my
belief (littering is wrong) and my perspective (I
saw something ;y from his window).
I forgot to ask the questions I would have
asked as a child, and I overlooked the human.
The problem wasn’t litter. It was me.
Editor in Chief
6 | PEI.ORG | Fourth Quarter 2019
Let’s Grow Up,
Think Like Children