you clean it up. That's the rule in our house. It's the rule at Eve and Lola's school, and the rule at most workplaces I know. You dirty up some dishes in the lunchroom? Wash them, dry them and put them away. No reason anyone else ought to be doing your dishes. It's a respect thing.
I get that sometimes accidents happen. I've seen Lola trying to maneuver a container of yogurt out of the fridge from behind that enormous jar of pickles, only to bump the jar and have the pickles and pickle juice cascade all down the front of the refrigerator shelves and onto the floor. What generally happens in that instance is that someone comes to help her clean it up. But nobody does it for her.
More importantly, though, when it is a purposeful activity that leads to a mess - say Eve's got a hankering to bake cookies on a rainy Sunday afternoon - she's responsible for cleaning it up. If she needs help she can always ask.
If Lola gets aggravated at her sister for calling her a name or treating her disrespectfully and decides to dump her entire load of clean, folded laundry over the railing onto the hardwood floor below it is Lola's job to pick up the clothes, refold them and put the basket back in front of Eve's door.
Why is it that we hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold our world leaders? It's a basic premise: You make a mess, you clean it up.
Last Thursday I was listening to NPR as they featured an interview with the man responsible for starting and maintaining the landmine museum in Afghanistan. Seems like an odd theme for a museum, I know, but his purpose is to bring awareness to the enormity of the problem with landmines in this war-fatigued country. I was astonished to learn that there are an estimated TEN MILLION LAND MINES IN AFGHANISTAN. Yes, you read that correctly. And I looked it up again to make sure I heard it correctly.
A huge majority of these mines are left over from the war between the former USSR and Afghanistan. You know, the one that ended in 1988. The mine of choice for this particular ten-year war is very benignly known as a "butterfly" mine. Turns out they actually look like butterflies and were designed this way so that they could be dropped via air and gently flutter to the ground without exploding. They only explode on contact with an animal or human being. Now, can you think of a human being that might be intrigued by a hand-sized object that resembles a butterfly? A child, perhaps? And can you imagine how many children have lost limbs and eyes and THEIR LIVES by picking up these land mines that have been in Afghanistan for the last 30 years or so?
Land mines litter the landscape of Afghanistan. They are on the land that is used to graze animals, paths to and from towns, and on school property. The incidence of land mines in Afghanistan has resulted in the depopulation of entire swaths of the country because people are unwilling to take the chance that they might come across one in their daily lives. And yet, the proprietor of this land mine museum still encounters children who actively seek out these mines in order to gather the scrap metal to make a little money for their families. Because their families have lost livestock to mines or they have been forced to give up growing crops that could sustain them because their land is too dangerous to work.
Ignoring the larger question of whether or not it is even morally defensible to use land mines as an offensive tactic, when a war is over, I think it is not unreasonable to expect the country that placed them to go in and clean up the land mines. Finding and disarming these deadly weapons is expensive and time consuming, but I think if you're willing to use them to target civilians (and don't tell me that this isn't what the the USSR and the Taliban were/are doing by placing mines in these particular areas), you ought to be willing to go pick up your mess when you've made your point. The fact that you can declare that a war is over and walk away knowing that generations of innocent civilians continue to be placed in harm's way as a direct result of your actions during wartime seems a little too easy.
It would seem to me that the countries who use land mines as a way to wage war ought to know in advance that they will be held responsible for all of the fallout from that decision. Not all is fair in war, and I believe that leaving a country riddled with land mines constitutes a war crime.