25 Bags of Human Faeces

This was developed during The Caledonia School of Speech Writing 2021, which you can find more out about here: https://www.speechwritingschool.com/

25 bags of human faeces. My dear, dear friend Mira cares so much, she has picked up, amongst so much other rubbish, 25 ill-disposed, bagged and abandoned human excrements from Scottish beauty spots in the last month alone.

Mira cares so much about littering, she picks up at least one carrier bag full over her day. Mira cares so much, that she often posts pictures of the litter on the streets of Glasgow or in the forests or hills or lochs she might be exploring that day, and, angrily, tags the local council in them and asks questions to provoke the thoughts of her followers. She cares so much she is part of the litter picking community that uses Instagram to organise picking gatherings, to share affirming before and after photos, and to campaign and petition to keep Scotland stunning.

Mira cares so much that she has transformed the way I see the space I live in.

I ignored the litter. You probably do too. It’s just too much. My eyes swept over it all these years I lived here, on all these walks along the rushing intertwining soul renewing River Tay that I have the immense privilege to live so close to. I instead focused on the wildflowers turning into seed pods, the trees filling out and thinning down, and my wee dog, guddling in amongst the rocks.

Now, I see the takeaway boxes wedged in the tall grass, the plastic bags hanging from branches, the shards of glass smashed along the path, and the drink cans my dog tips over as he plays in the shallows. Now, I pick up rubbish on my walks.

When you next leave your home, look around, consciously perceive your space, the place you belong to, notice what needs to be changed. Don’t ignore what is difficult to face.

I’m telling Mira’s story because she is what you might call an ‘ordinary citizen’, one who cares so much that every single day she affects me and others deeply. She challenges me, irritates me, supports me, into caring deeply too. Litter might seem like a fairly trivial and inconsequential matter to root this in, but to me, it is a microcosm of our failures and our possible potential. Each piece of rubbish dropped represents another choice made not to care. Each piece of rubbish picked up symbolises our love and support for one another, our choice to care for each other, whether we know who we are affecting personally or not, and our choice to care for where we live. This is key in a democracy to me.

All we can do is change our wee corner of the world, in whatever way that is, and if we stop getting angry, if we stop caring, then nothing changes. So I ask you:

Who’s your Mira? And can you be a Mira to others?

Image courtesy of Jasmin Sessler

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