What I am about to say doesn’t apply to everyone.
It doesn’t apply to the immigrant family just arrived from Darfur.
It doesn’t apply to the disabled veteran living in a box on the corner.
But it DOES apply to anyone with enough money and sustenance to afford a computer, an IPhone, a tablet.
What I am about to say applies to those of us lucky enough to be in the middle or upper class.
What I am about to say applies to the family who pays $150 to send their kid to basketball class, and another $500 on the uniform.
What I am about to say applies to the family who owns a car, a three-bedroom home.
What I am about to say applies to the family who takes their kids on vacation to Disney Land.
What I am about to say applies to some of my friends and neighbors.
What I am about to say is going to piss you off.
Your kid disgusts me.
Yes, your kid.
The 13-year-old who just threw a plastic cup under the bushes next to the preschool without thinking twice.
He disgusts me.
Sure, it’s only for a moment. A passing moment.
He’s only a kid after all.
Until it happens again.
Until the 6-year-old, the one who is in the same class as my son, rips the wrapper off his popsicle and drops it onto the street without worrying for a second about getting in trouble.
Today was not the first time I’ve seen a young person throw trash on the ground here in my community.
Today was not the first time I saw your kid throw trash on the ground as if the ground was going to take care of it.
As if the ground serves as his garbage can,
The same ground that braced your child’s fall when he was just learning to walk.
The same ground that nourishes the wildflowers you use as a beautiful background for family photos.
The same ground that you pay taxes to tend to.
Your kid just trashed that ground.
Now, you might think me harsh or judgmental.
You might think me smug.
You might spend the next two weeks watching my children like a hawk to see if they ever once throw trash on the ground.
And if they do, I hope that you will call to them, gently but not so gently scold them, insist they pick their garbage off the ground and place it in the proper receptacle.
Do what I didn’t just do.
I missed an opportunity. I let your kid walk away.
I let my ego get in the way — too afraid that I wouldn’t use the right words in Hebrew, I waited til he walked away and I picked up the cup myself.
And then I shook my head. At him. At you. At me.
It’s easy to make excuses.
My excuse is language.
My excuse is fear.
What is yours?
The truth is: There are no excuses for our children throwing garbage on the ground.
Not children who go to basketball, and play Wii, and own their own phones.
Not children who eat organic tomatoes or gluten-free pita.
There are no excuses.
(This was originally posted here.)