Societal wish list for the new year

2009-01-23 00:00

Back in 2004, celebrating 1O years of rainbowdom, I made a wish list. Being among the lucky lot who went to bed feeling neither hungry nor cold (and this still applies) did mean that there was time to think about things other than getting bread on the table and a blanket on the bed.

A modicum of privilege, wherever one lives in this uneasy modern world, does not mean that one is immune to worrisome feelings of insecurity (indubitably shared in multiplying measure by dodgy politicians as the people begin to see through them). But it does leave time for a societal wish list.

Four years on and not much on my list can be ticked off. A lot of it is about training. We still have litter on our village and city streets, although perhaps not quite so much. This probably ties in with my wish for less unemployment, with the corollary that training is vital at all job levels, even street sweeping. With training, surely, will come pride in a job well done. This definitely applies way up in the top government service levels too.

Back in 2004 I wished that those people in charge of maintaining our roads (especially dirt roads, as those are the ones we use most) would go out with the grader operators, and indeed pick-and-shovel users, and show them what to do. And what not to do: like not grader scraping 45 degree banks clean of all vegetation. The operators believed that they were doing a really good tidying-up job that way, but they were actually causing drastic erosion, with soil filling up drains and culverts with every rain.

I don’t believe that grader operators who are new on the job are even aware of any (erstwhile) culverts; but so far, since 2004, on our road-most-travelled, the banks have been left alone and have now got a bit of veld coverage. But if I drive around the corner to be confronted by clean-shaven banks one day … well, let’s not go down that road.

I would still love the Working for Water employees with their chain saws, hoes and machetes, to have a better idea of what to remove and what not to remove. Nothing doing there since 2004. But that depends on their bosses and even with the increasing awareness of carbon dioxide overload, it is evidently still okay to remove carbon-consuming — and beautiful — trees and colonies of unassuming lilies (my latest wish is that when I drive down that hill next year the latter will all be back).

On a gardening level, but still on the subject of trees, I wished back then that our two Golden Rain Trees would survive the increasingly heavy frosts so that one day they would look as beautiful as the ones on the streets of Scottsville. And, bingo, — so far they have. And, please God, may the Scottsville ones still be there when next I pass that way … but if I drive around the corner one day and find … well never mind.

On a really positive note, it cheered me up to read last year about the beautifying of what had been a dump site — perhaps this could be a forerunner of my allotments idea.

If wishes were horses (or taxis), beggars would ride. But my wish is for no more beggars. And that people would ride more, perhaps not horses but, say, bicycles. And drive fewer cars, or at least less often.

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