It’s been a month since we arrived in Rome and in all honesty, we don’t miss too much about the states. We’ve enjoyed being away from the politics, the consumerism, and the “busyness” of our culture that often causes Americans to miss the point of life. But one overlooked thing we miss dearly is trash pick-up.
Rome is currently in an overwhelming garbage crisis.
The New York Times recently published an article about Rome in Ruins. The tragedy of the trash is a complex issue on who to blame and how to solve it. According to Jason Horowitz, the article’s author and a Rome aficionado, some people attribute the mounting garbage to the economic crisis, while others blame the lack of police enforcement.
Even religious affiliates have an opinion. Socialists blame Catholics for being permissive and Catholics blame Socialists for not taking personal accountability. It’s a vicious cycle with lots of finger pointing but sadly, no fingers picking up the trash.
Interestingly enough, we noticed a few savvy, unemployed immigrants who raked leaves off the sidewalk in hopes of earning spare change from passerbys. While they did a great job keeping things tidy, it was the litter, not the leaves, that were the eyesore.
We got the sense that no one can be bothered by the trash.
And so people head to work, walk their dogs, and go live their life. They have more important things to concern themselves with like eating amazingly fresh food, living among centuries-old ancient ruins, and enjoying a wealth of art and culture. In the end, who cares about some trash?
Making observations that offer insight into a culture is just one of the many things that happen when traveling. We learn how other people live, the challenges they face, and we realize that no country is perfect.
We become envious of the good things they have (like daily gelato) and grateful that the bad things are only temporary (like trash everywhere). Once back home, we garner a bit of appreciation for the things and people we used to take for granted.
Now go out and hug some garbage collectors for us.