It's about our community and our spirituality!

Cause And Effect In The Alleyway

Right now, I live in the neighborhood I grew up in.  Forty years ago the neighborhood was thriving with grocery stores, retail outlets, service stations with full service, a Sears department store, automobile dealerships, and etcetera.  It was a racially mixed neighborhood.  People worked hard in their yards to raise award winning rose bushes and keep the shrubbery impeccable.  The block unit used to meet on a monthly basis to cleanup the alleyway.  Neighbors worked to keep their yards manicured.  And people lost their minds when trash appeared on their yards.  The lady that lived next door to us was regularly complaining to mom and dad that we were throwing trash on her yard.  I hated that witch of a woman.  But she cared a lot about keeping that yard clean.

Now, I look at my neighborhood and I have to shake my head.  The rose bushes died away a long, long time ago.  The impeccable yards of Augustine have been replaced with a patchwork of crabgrass and other weeds competing with the grass for a share of the real estate.  People don’t really take much pride in having a nice lawn for the neighborhood.  Thankfully, the people around my mom’s house still care about keeping the alleyway clean.  But go a few houses down and you can see trash and garbage beginning to pile up along the sides.  There are oil slicks where people routinely work on cars and are careless about keeping the oil and other car fluids from running on the ground and into the storm drains.  In fact, the greasy fried fish restaurant (and I use the term very loosely) would regularly throw their used grease into the street, letting cars track that blackish goo up and down the block.

And way too often, people use the alleyway as a urinal.  You’ll see a vehicle being driven down the alley when it’ll stop, somebody will get out and take a piss on the back of one of the garages or fences.  It’s not unheard of to see everybody in the car get out to take a leak.  And we’re talking about people who seldom drink something as healthy as plain old water and are often drinking something more toxic like alcohol.  This is the type of urine with a seriously pungent stench and can actually temporarily stain the ground until it is washed away.

I wasn’t there, but the misses took junior out for a walk.  They were walking through the alley.  They were passing a house that was pristine back in the day, but now is littered with garbage and trash.  The gate in the fence could use some attention.  But the current residents could not care less about repairing hinges or the lock mechanism.  They don’t even bother to close the thing.  The family there was bar-b-cueing in the backyard.  Just as the misses and junior was walking by an old bent over black man in the yard threw some garbage over the fence, aiming for the big trash bin in the back, but missed and let the refuse fall into the alley.  He started complaining to no one in particular about how foul the alleyway was and how somebody needed to clean the goddamn place up because he was so tired of this place stinking.  It appears as if some people truly have not learned the basic principles of cause and effect.

Cause and effect is the relationship between two events, one leading to the other.  The first event is the cause that makes a condition or effect.  In this example, if I take an alleyway that was clean once upon a time and throw trash over the fence and let the oil and grease from a car pollute the ground, the effect will be a soiled environment that will be less than welcoming and invites more trash.  There is a cause and effect associated with trash and how it can lead to more trash if somebody doesn’t clean it up.

And on the flipside, there is a cause and effect associated with keeping a place clean.  Cleaning a place up can actually lead to a place staying clean and it becoming the welcoming environment people like to live in or next to.  Just like it takes work to trash a place, it takes work to clean a place up or to keep it clean.  And just like trashing a place is a constant process, cleaning a place up is a constant process as well.  One morning I pulled the car out of the garage to go to work, somebody had tagged our white garage door with some initials and some spray painted advertising for some thugs in the area.  Instead of just going to work and letting that eyesore remain, I parked the car, got one of the cans of white paint my mom seems to always keep in the house, and restored the garage to its original condition.  They had tagged the neighbor’s garage as well.  I took care of it as well.  I was about twenty minutes late for work.

In the end, I figured it took me just as much work to clean it as it took the overnight and out of sight artist to mess it up.  The end result is that the garage stays clean and somebody learned not to waste their time trying to redecorate our part of our neighborhood.  We like it just fine the way it is.  Their cause will not effect a change here.

The little black old man has yet to learn this process.  He’ll just bitch and moan about how somebody needs to care about cleaning up the mess he leaves behind.  A lot of people will say that they hate this old neighborhood and can’t wait to get up out of here.  But I have little doubt that wherever they go the trash and oil grease will build up and they’ll complain about how the new place is going to hell in a hand basket.  And they’ll never put two and two together and learn the lesson of cause and effect.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Thoughts


  1. Now, if only your act of caring would be a little more contagious! Of course in an environment where a lot of the people don’t care, it often makes it hard for those who do care to keep caring…I sometimes, while not actively trashing anything, wonder if any of my efforts to pick up the trash that missed the bin, or pulling the rocks out of the grass and back into their designated spot, are ever worth it in the end.
    It can get discouraging, but I hope I can continue to keep it up myself.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Friday, April 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. “It was a racially mixed neighborhood.”

    What is the make-up now? I assume it has changed – otherwise you probably wouldn’t have bothered to mention it, especially not in the past tense.

    Comment by John | Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback John,

      The neighborhood used to be 50/50. And most people owned the homes they lived in. A lot of people stayed in their homes until they needed some form of assisted living. Then, as other people inherited the homes, people that lived elsewhere, many simply put them up for rent and didn’t care who they got to live in them as long as they paid. And renters don’t take care of a home like home owners do. Now, the neighborhood is about 95% black. The few white people who live here are renters and, judging from their appearance and behavior, they don’t think much of themselves. The bulk of the people used to be middle class. But many of those people have moved on and have left a lower class in their wake.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, April 5, 2010 | Reply

  3. “And they’ll never put two and two together and learn the lesson of cause and effect.”

    Even when the same cause and effect have been repeated hundreds of times all over the world.

    Comment by John | Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: