In a small town two miles away, the thefts now sound like something out of Edward Gibbon’s bleaker chapters — or maybe George Miller’s Road Warrior, or the Hughes brothers’ more recent The Book of Eli. Hundreds of bronze commemorative plaques were ripped off my town’s public buildings (and with them all record of our ancestors’ public-spiritedness). I guess that is our version of Trotskyization.
The Catholic church was just looted (again) of its bronze and silver icons. Manhole covers are missing (some of the town’s own maintenance staff were arrested for this theft, no less!). The Little League clubhouse was ransacked of its equipment.
In short, all the stuff of civilization — municipal buildings, education, religion, transportation, recreation — seems under assault in the last year by the contemporary forces of barbarism.
For those who do not leave the area, silence for now remains the norm. We pick up the litter from our farms on the implicit logic that the vandal — and, indeed, the state as well — expects us to, given our greater worry that his garbage would be likely to attract rats, flies, and other historical purveyors of illness. Dead cats, dirty diapers, used needles, baby carriages, shattered TVs, chairs, sofas, rotting lumber, broken windows, concrete blocks, tree limbs, used paint cans, household poisons, bags of used toilet paper and tampons, broken toys, fast-food boxes, toddler’s pools, tires, rotting chickens and dogs — anything that does not have easily detachable clean steel or copper — I’ve picked them all up from my vineyard and driveways.
I do not (yet) move wrecked Winnebagos and trailers onto my single-family-zoned rural parcel to garner rental cash, as do many of my neighbors. After all, some must not, if the careful zoning work of a century is to survive. When one dog in four is not licensed and vaccinated out here, we have a problem; when four out of four will not be, we should expect a 19th-century crisis. When there are three outdoor privies used daily behind a neighbor’s house, the local environment can still handle the flies, the odor, and the increase in the chance of disease; but if there were to be 100 in a half-mile stretch, civilization itself would break down.Effects of Invasives on Native Cultural Habitat
Cynicism is the result. We pay no attention to news accounts of new state measures to check the source of metals presented at recycling centers, because we know these efforts are futile — as futile as the “seminars” in which we are told to fence everything in, to buy huge guard dogs, to install video cameras in trees, and to acquire electric gates — as if we were not so much being protected but being held prisoner.link