‘Because we can’


I watched a rather interesting show on Astro recently entitled ‘Makkal TV’ (which literally means The People’s TV). The programme, produced in India, is shot in various locations in Chennai where the TV crew goes around asking members of the public random questions.

On this particular episode, the TV crew visited a primary school. A teacher who acted as the host, posed a simple question to a classroom of twelve-year-olds – “What would you do if you saw someone throwing rubbish on the street?”

A boy who was the first one asked, smiled before saying he would mind his own business.

Another, a giggling boy, said he would probably stare hard at the person in question, hoping to show his displeasure with the litterbug’s action.

It took a few more before someone said they would actually stop the litterbug in his tracks and tell him off.

As the show progressed, more students were asked the same question and more replies, received.

“They should be stopped and reminded not to do it again.”

“I will force them to pick up their own litter.”

“Heavier penalties should be imposed on them.”

“The authorities should be notified.”

And then, the teacher came across a girl.

“What would you do if you saw people throwing rubbish on the street?”

The girl stood up and said confidently, “I would pick it up.”

“Why would you pick up someone else’s litter?” the teacher asked.

“Because I can,” she answered short and sweet.

“Shouldn’t a person be made to pick up their own litter?” the teacher asked.

“Everyone should pick up their own litter. But when they fail to do so, it becomes our responsibility to do it.”

I smiled listening to her wonderful answer, quite amazed at the young girl’s wisdom.

As the situation in the classroom turned noisy, the teacher shushed everyone and asked yet another question of the girl.

“Why do you think it is our responsibility to carry out a task others have failed at?”

“Because we can lead by example. When we pick up someone else’s litter, others will see us doing it, and not only will they themselves refrain from littering, they too can start picking up the litter they see around them.”

I was astounded to hear such rational thinking from a twelve-year old.

Her teacher grinned from ear to ear.

Moving on to other students, he asked them a new question: “What would you do if you saw someone leaving a tap running?”

The students collectively answered, “We will shut it off ourselves.”


“Because we can.”

“Lead by example!”

My heart ballooned with pride. What a wonderful way to educate not only the young ones but also adults! Honestly, if only we could learn from this girl’s wisdom, everyone would take matters into their own hands and there would be no one pointing fingers at others.

Now wouldn’t that be a dream come true?

Remember – “Lead by example”

Why? – Because we can!