When you make a mess, you clean it up. That’s what we’ve been taught since kindergarten. When color from our paintbrush drips onto the floor, we’re met with a wet washcloth to sop up the liquid before it stains. When playtime’s over, we instinctively understand that it’s time to collect all of the toys and put them back in the box. And there’s no crying over spilled milk, but when it does spill, you damn well better grab a towel and dry it up.
We’ve learned that every problem is fixable. Every dilemma has a solution. Every mess has a clean-up strategy. But that doesn’t mean that we should wait until a problem escalates to such a point where our only option is overhauling the system. Why is the world in a constant state of cleanup? From the Gulf oil spill to the financial crisis to global warming to the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, we have to clean up fuck-up after fuck-up after fuck-up. So why are we waiting for things to fail if there’s a way to correct them beforehand?
Some messes are so colossal that a solution may not be easily attainable, much less understandable. Christine Loman’s article, “The Crash, the Crisis, the Cleanup,” dissects the financial disaster that resulted in the recession that we’re still trying to sort out. And in Kacey Deamer’s piece, “Mother Earth’s New Janitorial Crew,” we see a new generation of activists trying to address the monstrous problems facing the future of the environment.
Of course, not all clean-up is on such a global scale. In “Cleaning Up Their Act,” Catherine Fisher discusses celebrities who jeopardize their fames and fortunes with cringe-inducing scandals, including how they can bounce back. And in Gena Mangiaratti’s “Do-It-Yourself Religion,” we see a group of Christians trying to clean up their churches by breaking away and starting from scratch.
There’re plenty of messes out there. So it’s time to grab your mops, brooms, shamwows and Swiffers, because we’ve got a huge task ahead of us if we’re going to avoid having only one option: “massive, large-scale clean-up duties.” Everybody, everywhere. Everybody, do your share.
See the printed version of the Clean Up Issue here.