Use common sense, treat it like your own

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 16 March 2018, 12:00AM

We know this much. In the bigger scheme of things, it is our attitude towards the small things that makes a huge difference. 

This truth applies to everything in life. Yes folks, small things do matter. 

And when it comes to the general attitude about waste and the upkeep of public places in our beautiful country, you’ll find so many people don’t pay attention to the small details. 

It begins from how they will stick their chewing gum anywhere and everywhere to the point where they go on to show total disregard with where they throw the plastic bottles, soda cans and eventually plastic bags and everything else. 

It is such a reckless attitude, a disgusting one too at that.

But it begins from the small things we don’t often think about.

A classic example was a story on page 3 of yesterday’s Samoa Observer titled “Cigarette butts ‘eyesore’. ”

The story featured the concerns expressed by business owner, Christa Szergedi, about cigarette butts that many members of the public recklessly throw everywhere – including the pot plants at the A.C.C. building. 

 “I feel very bad just looking at where they throw it and that is usually in the pot plants across from my other branch. It looks unhealthy,” she said.

 “It is not good for the plants and for the tourists who walk by the area. All tourists walk through that way.”

So who is responsible for this despicable act? 

Well according to Ms. Szergedi, every day there are people who smoke there from morning until evening. And they don’t care at all that they are littering.

 “Most of them are all locals and in Samoa you are not allowed to smoke in public places. Some of them are probably the people who work in those buildings and also people who go for drinks. You see people everywhere smoking, but this is really bad.

“It paints a bad picture of this location. When it looks dirty, who would want to walk here and look at something that is dirty?”

Ms. Szergedi couldn’t have said it better. And good on her for speaking out.

But we don’t need to go to the A.C.C building to see this. 

This is such a common attitude in most places. And it is absolutely disgusting to watch. People without thinking just throw their cigarette butts anywhere and everything; they don’t care if it burns someone. Then there are the types who spit in public places without a care in the world about how other people feel.

The fact is in Samoa, people are not allowed to smoke in public places. 

Why then has nothing been done about the fact that people openly light up their cigarettes wherever and whenever? What is the point of having laws when they are not enforced? 

Perhaps if someone was taken to Court for violating these laws, maybe someone would be paying attention.  But as it stands, these laws are absolutely useless because they are not enforced. Which is why people are openly breaking them. 

In some countries, this is the sort of behavior that will land you in jail. Elsewhere you could be paying thousands of dollars in fines.

Maybe it’s about time we consider legislating similar laws here.

Away from the government’s laws, there is another law called common sense, which we believe should help everyone do the right thing.

At this point, the word ‘fa’igaelo,’ a Samoan term used to describe someone who is disgustingly untidy, comes to mind. The question is, will you spit in the middle of your living room? Will you throw your cigarette butt to your children’s faces?

Will you dump a bag full of trash in the middle of your faleo’o or fale Samoa? 

You wouldn’t walk in the middle of the a’ai in your village and scatter your rubbish, would you? So why do it in front elsewhere? Why do we find it so easy to litter in public places? 

It’s because we think that someone else will always pick up after us. We know it’s not ours and it is therefore not our responsibility. Such a selfish and destructive mentality.

Today, let’s think about common sense and do the right thing. What we want to stress is that our people need to take ownership of these places. They are public places. In other words, they belong to you and me. In simple terms, treat it like your own.

Have a safe weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 16 March 2018, 12:00AM

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