Ocean Shores, Washington was the place to be on Independence Day. The beach was quite the site for last weekend’s patriotic clam bake. Talk about the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air. There was plenty of both on Saturday.
But wait. Although garbage bags were handed out to everyone who entered the beach, some people didn’t get the Clean Up memo. Here’s how the beach looked on July 5:
“Unacceptable” is an understatement. What’s equally unacceptable, however, are some of the brain surgeon-esque responses:
too bad they couldn’t just stop all fireworks down there on the beaches and just have a professional group do it, if that is what is needed for people.
Oh, fine. Let’s just stop all private firework displays, yank the celebration away from free citizens and turn it into a “professionals only” zone. While you’re at it, why not just shut down the beaches entirely, Komrade? That way no one can have any access and there’ll be no messes anywhere, post-Independence Day.
Let me count the ironies.
Newsflash: Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. But you don’t curtail everyone’s freedoms because a few knuckleheads are acting like knuckleheads. Instead, you find those responsible and deal with them. If you can’t find them, you pitch in with clean-up efforts and double-up your PSAs next year. You ask people to keep an eye out for offenders and report said yahoos to the authorities. You teach your kids to pick up after themselves.
You don’t snuff out the rocket’s red glare for everyone because a few people never got Mommy Clean Up Lecture #6,201. As in, if you pack it in, you pack it out. Be responsible for your own trash. Clean up after yourself instead of expecting someone else to do it.
While there’s no excuse for this kind of post-July 4th beach mess, most people were responsible. They picked up after themselves. I was there. We swept our site clean. Left our little patch of beach cleaner than it was when we arrived. (We did not see any police. However, the fire department was out in force.)
The answer isn’t Ban It. More government. More regulations. Turning Independence Day into Dependence on Professionals Day. The answer is more common courtesy and personal responsibility. Remember those quaint little notions?
Beach trash photo credit: Mark Nelsen