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Outward Bound: Benefiting from the International Community

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The pavement glides beneath me as I traverse my city. A pale sun struggles to eclipse the clouds, a cardinal sings, and a gust of wind plays lightly against my windbreaker. In this moment, I feel invigorated; Cleveland is my playground. Then, unwillingly, I stop. My left sneaker is glued to the ground. As I try to remove the clump of gum that so rudely hijacked my footwear, a dirtied, airborne newspaper meets my face. Thankfully, I manage to detach myself from the ground, but continue with a hint of dejection into the haze of the metropolis.



It is because of moments like this that I question the effectiveness of Ohio's littering laws, at least in Cleveland. At present, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources charges littering with fines of up to $500, and/or stays in jail of up to 60 days. Even though these amounts are certainly daunting, they don't seem to faze the general population. In 2005, Readers identified the dirtiest cities in America. Cleveland had a Sanitation score was 26 out of a perfect 50, and was deemed overall to be the 12th dirtiest metropolitan area in the United States! The numbers notwithstanding, I still have hope for this grungy city. Cleveland needs only to think internationally to better its position on the chart.



Singapore would be an excellent model for Cleveland. Litterers in this city risk receiving $1000 fines ($2000 for repeated offenses). The heavy monetary fines are reason enough to trudge the extra five feet to a trash can, but the part most integral to Singapore's success is the Corrective Work Order. Litterers don CWO clothing and perform community service under the watchful eye of the media, allowing their entire society to cast shame on their deeds. Singaporean law emphasizes social honor and reputation. People won't make an effort to change their ways, at least initially, until they are called out on their acts publicly.



The current state of Cleveland's public property suggests that people don't recognize their impact on the world, nor do many seem to care. If one takes into account the recent atmosphere of change, though, it seems plausible that Clevelanders might be willing to implement more humanitarian ideas. In Ohio, a 'blue' state in support of change, it seems one might need only to add an amendment to the nearest future ballot to see their ideas realized. I recently participated in my first presidential election, and found that the environmentally-conscious amendments I voted for won by landslides in my district. In wake of the election, then, Ohioans who petition for more effective, albeit more serious laws might have a chance of getting their ideas put into action.



In order to reverse negative environmental trends, there needs to be a greater emphasis on honor. One cannot simply sign a check to make psychological issues recede into the past. Rather, one must own up to, and apologize for misdemeanors in order to find social redemption through public service. It's because of my belief in the power of public humiliation that I deem the littering policies of Singapore to be excellent role models for Ohio.





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