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Opinion: The parable of the basket

In my opinion, the most basic measure of a society is how we treat each other…


Everyone who lives in Juneau knows the winds of Taku, but especially residents of Douglas and downtown. They are fierce.

Early one morning in January a few years ago, I went to Foodland. It was still dark and Taku’s winds were blowing. I needed pellets for my pellet stove. I had made my purchase and was in the parking lot loading the bags of pellets into my car when I heard a noise. It was the sound of a shopping cart being blown across the parking lot. I didn’t see it, but I could tell from the sound that it was picking up speed. Then he crashed into a nearby car. I went to see the damage. It had crashed into a fairly new van and there was visible damage. Then it occurred to me: not so long ago this would never have happened because until a few years ago everyone dutifully put the carts back in the storage area at the interior of the building. This is how I know our society is going backwards.

In my opinion, the most basic measure of a society is how we treat each other, especially people we don’t know. Simply returning a shopping cart to its storage location shows respect for other customers and store managers. Shopping carts left in the middle of a parking lot are one example, but there are many others, such as being polite to store cashiers and not littering the parking lot or our streets.

One can google questions like “Is society regressing? or “Is society devolving?” or “Is society going upside down?” and find scholarly articles that address the issue from some macro level. But I say the answer is not at the macro level. The answer can be seen in grocery store parking lots right here in Juneau Alaska.

• Ray Preston is a longtime resident of Juneau and a self-identified “retiree”.