My email box has been flooded the past six weeks or so with announcements about all kinds of days and weeks and months dedicated to one cause or another. With the onset of spring, it seems that the biggest thing blooming is people’s desire to be part of a movement, whether it is for clean air, victims of domestic violence, cancer, labor, smelly socks, hairy armpits, and so on.
Earth Day is an interesting one, supposedly honoring all things natural and condemning all things unnatural, every April 22. On that day, everybody gets to hug trees and kiss the grass and be a dirty, barefoot hippie even if just for a little while. Ironically, this often means people drive en masse to an urban park, choking the air with exhaust and then sucking it into their lungs while tossing Frisbees around. Then they snack on greasy processed food and tossing the wrappers and natural spring water bottles into the trash. I quit going to Idlewild Park in Reno on Earth Day for this very reason, and I was sick of fighting for a parking place.
Receiving all these reminders about a wide variety of important issues can be helpful for those of us in the news business looking for story ideas. In many of these cases, the folks coordinating the various commemorative days help out us reporters by digging up real-life examples of their causes. When writing about colorectal cancer, for example, it is helpful to have a patient to talk to about it. Colorectal cancer is nothing to be laughed at, but given the name I do wonder why somebody didn’t think of a more appealing name. Even though having victims to speak to is helpful from a news standpoint, the folks in charge of all these causes probably ought to get together and try to avoid so much overlap. Sometimes I have to choose whether the one-legged folks with Down syndrome or the foster children with leprosy are more worthy of a day’s coverage.
I suppose I could make a list of all these causes and track them down on a day other than their self-designated day of remembrance. It’s not like these problems or illnesses go away the other 364 days or 11 months of the year. But that’s almost an unintended side effects of these “national days of ______” or “______ awareness months.” We all get worked up about the issue for a little while and then just as quickly forget all about it. But, then, maybe that’s all any cause really needs: one good day or week or month of fundraising and awareness and it is enough to sustain them for the rest of the year. That’s all millions of “Christians” give Jesus. After Dec. 25, they’re set for goodness and faith the whole year through, right?
This week I learned from fellow columnist Andy Barbano that much of the world honors labor in the spring instead of in September like we do in America. Barbano is one of the few people I have ever met who is passionate about his causes all year long. He helped organize a little event this week at the ampitheater in downtown Sparks memorializing laborers who died earning their paychecks. When I learned of the location, it occurred to me that he ought to take up bird poop as a new cause, since that ampitheater is covered in it. A day or so later, he did just that, sending an email to the city asking that the issue be fixed for the health and safety of the attendees. Not to mention the issue of being very, very yucky.
A day or so later, I saw a crew hosing down the seats with a power washer. If only it were so easy to fix breast cancer or diabetes or spousal abuse or racism.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see about establishing a National Day of Me.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.