You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Leaf blowers.
Recently my son and I were out on a walk, enjoying a rare sunny day in the Pacific Northwest. As we made our way home from the playground we passed a man who’d just finished trimming his hedges. Now I don’t mean “trimming his hedges” as some sort of erotic euphemism, I mean he literally had just finished trimming his hedges.
With his greenery now pruned to his satisfaction, said man was in the process of cleaning up the hedge refuse. And by “cleaning” I mean he was using a leaf blower to push all the trimmings into the street.
I’m not a homeowner so I cannot pretend to understand the burden that comes with having to keep a front yard perfectly pruned. But when I do someday take on this responsibility, my hedge clippings will be swept up and placed in the trashcan specified for green waste. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find since these receptacles tend to be painted green. What I WILL NOT do is fire-up a noisy, gas-powered blower and push my waste into the street so that someone else has to deal with it.
I wish the man I saw on that sunny afternoon was a unique case, but sadly he is not. When I lived in Los Angeles I saw leaf blowers as often as I saw fake breasts. Okay, not that often, but you get the idea. In upscale neighborhoods all over the Southland, underpaid gardeners of the rich and famous would routinely blow dirt and lawn waste into the street. Down there, it is just the way things are done.
Personally, I believe leaf blowers to be more than just a semi-useless power tool that epitomizes laziness. I feel they’re also a microcosm of our modern world. When we make messes, we don’t feel the need to clean them up. We’d much rather blow them into the street and have someone else do it for us.
This regrettable attitude is clearly evident when it comes to our government. Take the recent brouhaha over the detainees at the soon to be closing Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. Now that President Obama wants to do away with this human rights atrocity, we have gutless politicians from both sides of the aisle claiming that it would be dangerous to bring these prisoners onto U.S. soil; as if they’d simply be set free and given traveling money along with a map of nuclear power plants.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think these prisoners would be any more of a threat to our safety than the other murderers, serial killers and terrorists who currently reside in our maximum-security prisons. I mean, not even Andy Dufresne could spoon his way out of one of these fortresses.
Yet despite these facts, the brain surgeons we’ve elected to the Senate would rather pander to their clueless constituents and send these alleged terrorists back to their home countries – because Middle Eastern nations have such a long and storied history of locking up dangerous Jihadists.
What some in our country can’t seem to come to grips with is the fact that these prisoners are now our responsibility. They became our responsibility the moment we swept them up and brought them to Gitmo. And as a nation that dove headfirst into a ridiculous war based on a need to spread democracy (or at least that was the premise after our failure to find WMDs) these enemy combatants should be brought into the U.S. and introduced to one of our most basic democratic principles – the right to a fair trial.
Or we can continue to ignore our own laws and simply blow these men into the street like grass clippings. If we’re lucky, someone else will come along and sweep them up for us. Of course the more likely scenario involves a stiff wind picking up these alleged terrorists and and blowing them right back into our front yard.
Then they’ll be our problem all over again.