“Things Fall Apart”*


[Ohio River derelict boatyard, Louisville KY]

Yesterday, gorgeous, sunny, and warm, my two and a-half-year-old grand-daughter and I strolled the neighborhood, stopping at a small park, once a vacant lot, the next street over. (Full disclosure: I was one of the many neighbors who maintained that open space until the city assumed responsibility for its landscaping and maintenance.) She and I quickly dis-covered that over the winter, countless dog owners had let their pets loose to do their business in the snow; melting snow revealed layers and layers and piles and piles of dog shit. An unbelievable quantity. Trust me.

After my initial outrage, after wondering if I could enlist the abutting neighbors to help patrol or take pictures of the miscreants (owners not dogs), after considering calling the head of Parks and Open Space and loudly demand he lock the park entrance—(until what, Patricia? Those horrible dog owners agree to clean up their dogs’ mess? C’mon!); in other words after lots of indignant, First Word Problem stewing, I realized I had a spiritual challenge—literally—in my own back yard.

Here’s how far I’ve gotten (and it’s not very far): Although we are neighbors, I don’t live in the same neighborhood as those dog owners. We see ourselves and how we interact with this neighborhood in profoundly different ways.  And although all of us live now, right now, those dog owners and I have a major difference about time. About the relationship between the here and now (and the expedient) and, yes, what comes next. Like spring. When the snow will melt. And how present action has consequences! Always. And, finally, what does it mean that I live in a neighborhood with people who don’t believe their actions have consequences? Whose centre is themselves?

Like I said: not very far.

*”Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”  is a line from “The Second Coming” by Yeats



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  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, my so, so very precious and dearest white sisterfriend Patricia! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you so for this very on point and right on blog post article of yours, precious white sister! Patricia, I can sure relate-I have the same problem! My apartment complex is a beautiful building with a lovely landscape and scenic grounds. Despite repeated warnings from our apartment manager some of my neighbors who have dogs still do not pick up after their dogs and there are left remnants of doggie doo around the grounds of my apartment complex! This seems to be a problem which doesn’t quit, sisterfriend! Patricia, you are so right-it is very much indeed insensitive, careless, and irresponsible for dog owners to neglect their duties in this way, my dearest and precious friend!!!!!!

    Patricia, you are such an eternal and greatly immense and immeasurable joy and blessing to me, as are your brilliant, inspiring, and astounding blog post articles! We as your very grateful and appreciative readers do for sure For Always appreciate you, sister, and are so, so very blessed by you!!!!!! Sister, please may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!! Patricia, thank-you so for being you and such an empowering Christian white sisterfriend and white anti-racist ally and activist in soliidarity!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my white sister Patricia, with Peace and Love to You For Always with Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always my white sisterfriend,

    Your Christian lesbian black sisterfriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

  2. Of course, it’s not just dog-owners with their mess, or smokers with their butts, or picnickers with their trash — we all do this ignoring the consequences thing, to different degrees. I am too embarrassed by my (hopefully) former cluelessness about a number of what are now very obviously dubious personal practices to give examples; they were convenient, saved a little time, a little effort, and I just didn’t think about the consequences, or what was really happening, until they were brought forcefully to my attention. They don’t rise to the level of embezzling public funds, or other egregious “mistakes,” but I think we all — at least I — have done little things that are expedient and mildly dishonest without thinking about them; most of us learn to be much more careful, but the ones that get in the news just let their cluelessness grow and grow.

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