Show what separates you from a baboon, our community will be better for it

Show what separates you from a baboon, our community will be better for it

Show what separates you from a baboon

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has been saddened and disappointed with humanity these days. In the grand world picture, things are pretty ugly out there and too overwhelming for this pea brain to break down. I have to limit my focus on my little portion of our planet.

Now, most people in our special part of the world are respectful and honest, they care for the environment and for the neighbours with whom they share our paradise. But then of course as we all know, there are other less considerate humans with whom we share it. I’m certain I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to comment on how loathsome it is to encounter excessively rude behaviour, or come across the tracks these people leave in their wake, tracks left behind like animals that leave droppings to mark their territory, declaring their presence to their neighbours.

Like so many others, bike rides or morning walks take me past piles of garbage strewn along the side of our roads, around our newspaper boxes, our mail boxes. One has to be ever-watchful for speeding drivers who seem to entertain themselves by seeing how close they can place their side mirror to the side of my head as they zip past. Trail walks reveal truckloads of waste or recyclable materials dumped for Nature to dissolve or for some good neighbour to deal with. Quads and motorcycles turn donuts, chewing up our trails. Cyclists ride side by side on narrow country roads, creating life-threatening challenges for drivers.

Boats designed for racing on larger waters roar by, churning up and spreading the milfoil that is quietly choking our precious lakes, milfoil likely brought in on an uncleaned hull or prop. Some power boaters intimidate smaller craft, swimmers and paddle boarders, their wakes rocking docks until support brackets loosen and shear off. Evening cruises of crammed boats equipped with super-efficient sound systems pound out their music like midway DJs, for all their neighbours to “enjoy”. A sea-do zips close to shore, gives the finger to protesting observers, then pulls away at top speed.

I’m likely preaching to the converted, since I wonder if these inconsiderate bandits read local publications or attend community meetings. Certainly not all boaters, drivers, quaders or cyclists show such disregard, and some abusers are visitors who feel it’s fine to let loose and relieve themselves all over our paradise, but it only takes one imbecile to inspire another.

The Cowichan Valley is home for so many quality, caring, committed, community-minded people. People who give their time cleaning up the shorelines, who take action against invasive milfoil and derelict boats, people who explore options that will provide fairness to all who use our roads, trails and waters. People who helped build the Shawnigan Pavilion. Brave people who stood up against a contaminated waste dump in the battle to protect our water for now and for the future. People who donate their money for community-minded causes, for organizations such as the SRA, the Shawnigan Basin Society, the museum or the purchase of Mount Baldy. People who stand against those who come to exploit and diminish our sweet Cowichan Valley. People who check on their neighbours and offer a hand if needed, who would rather pick up the mess left behind by those who don’t give a damn, than step over it. People who believe that we are blessed indeed to live in such a wonderful part of the world.

Take pride in where you live, it’s really damn beautiful here. Don’t toss those beer cans and sandwich wrappers out your car window. Don’t toss flyers on the ground like they don’t exist, just take them with you and put them in your garbage or recycle bins. Don’t dump your old couch, drywall, soiled diapers or broken microwaves on a trail or on the shoulder of a road like an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between a toilet and a living room. Show what separates you from how baboons behave and deal with your waste like you care about where you live. Don’t tailgate and flash your high beams because the car in front of you isn’t going 20 kilometres over the speed limit — be patient and they’ll likely pull over when they can to let you pass. Chill.

That’s my rant. When one person has a change of heart and feels that being an idiot is not better than being someone who takes pride in their home and their community, maybe it’ll influence one more person to pick up after themselves. I promise to try my best to help look after my part of our community, to respect our beautiful paradise on a crazy planet and to be a good neighbour. I have to, because this is home — and that’s what neighbours do.

Paul Jolicoeur

Shawnigan Lake