Eureka, UT, a mining town — April 2012. A story of the extractive industry and the lives of the people it affects.
Terry Tempest Williams is a favorite writer of mine, not only because she writes of the environment, the living and physical world we live in, but because the God-view that is woven through her writing is familiar to me, close to my own. Williams talks of the consciousness of being in the world in an article in the online The Progressive. She then compares that consciousness to the “world view” held by many scornful of environmentalism, specifically naming current GOP candidates Santorum, Gingrich and Romney. Williams quotes Santorum:
Consider Rick Santorum’s recent comments to Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, when he said Barack Obama’s “world view” is different than that of most Americans. The day before, Santorum had said that the President believes in “some phony ideal, some phony theology . . . not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”
When Schieffer asked him to clarify his statements, Santorum said that he was referencing not the President’s faith but environmentalism.
“Well, I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” he said. “That’s what I was talking about: Energy, this idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. . . . I don’t believe that that’s what we’re here to do.”
“The Earth is not the objective,” Santorum said. “Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.”
The most frightening thing about Santorum’s comments are that so many people have the same world view. Many seem to have no consciousness of the reciprocity, the symbiosis in our existence in this world. We have become parasites of the highest order, sucking the life out of all that has been supporting us.
Williams includes this from Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), an anthropologist who saw human beings as part of a system:
If you put God outside and set him vis-à-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks . . . against the environment of other social units, other races, and the brutes and vegetables. If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.
I cannot say it better so will simply repeat Bateson’s pronouncement while thanking Terry Tempest Williams for her essay on the need for consciousness.
If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.
“It’s a new dawn… It’s a new day… It’s a new life for me… And I’m feeling good.”
from “Feeling Good,” Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricuse
Did you know that February 15th is noted as the day Buddha achieved Nirvana by separating from his mortal body (usually called ‘death’)? According to Wikipedia, this is a day for readings and meditation on one’s own death and the death of loved ones.
This is especially timely for me personally as my good friend and boss has been gently easing the passing of his dear mother. He talks of her transitioning between the physical and spiritual spheres and the enlightenment that she is sharing with family around her. This is a beautiful, enriching and comforting experience for them.
In addition, my own eighty-three year old mother lapsed into a near-coma state Sunday, no food or water intake, fever, unable to stand, largely incoherent — a frightening experience. We nursed her throughout the day but by evening we called 911 to send an ambulance. She was given IV fluids and antibiotic and almost immediately became more alert. The test-based diagnosis of kidney infection was later confirmed and, three days later, she is home again.
Lesson learned from this experience:
- Prepare now; you never know (sounds trite and clicheish but it’s true).
- Know all medications and have documentation of the schedule and history.
- Realize that unless your loved one is a small child you will not be able to lift, carry, maneuver them. They will have bathroom and clothing needs in addition to simply shifting them in bed for comfort and one average person alone cannot do this. My stepfather and I together could not lift or transport my mother and she weighs 160 lb., certainly not obese.
- Don’t be afraid to call the doctor or 911 for an ambulance.
My mother purchased a long-term care plan that includes assisted living. I have resisted this move for several months even though she (they) have brought it up occasionally, but I think it is time to seriously consider the move. I cannot take care of my mother the way she needs. That may sound cold and heartless for many, but it’s the truth. I am not strong enough physically, am still low on energy from my own bout with breast cancer and treatments. My stepfather is eighty-five and has plenty of his own physical (heart) problems. If either of them falls, that’s it, they’re down.
We have the comfort of knowing that she has this plan available, many do not. Unfortunately, one of the first things dropped from Obama’s Health Care Plan under extreme pressure from congressional Republicans was the long-term care provision. This puts many, many people in the position of not being able to care for their aging parents in need without either giving up a needed job or spending their own retirement savings in the process. Either way, society in general loses.
Death comes to us all, it’s part of life itself. One step, then another….
HT to Mother Nature Network
Just a couple of thoughts about all of this:
1. Science is not something you believe in; science is proven, tested fact.
2. Addressing what some view as a religion/science conflict: there is no conflict; Science answers the how, religion answers the why, two different questions asked of creation. If religion is not part of your life, there is no conflict; if religion is part of your life, again, there is no conflict. The conflict only comes when you try to make an explanation answer the wrong question.
Thank you Carl Sagan for this excellent (and short) description of the process of evolution.
From Mother Nature Network, a story of species rediscovery, a story of renewal.
HI THERE: A small group of Miller’s grizzled langurs, including a juvenile. These rare monkeys had been feared extinct. (Photo: Eric Fell)
I love stories like this.
Winter solstice, the shortest “day” of the year, celebrated by pagans throughout human history as the beginning of the return to light.
Our world needs light, our hearts need light. Darkness surrounds us: dark thoughts, dark words, dark actions. There is light in our world also, but the focus often seems to be on the pain and harshness in the world rather than on the light — the goodness — that is all around us.
Richard Radstone writes a blog that has inspired me. Richard writes of his world and his place in it with the people he loves and has chosen to spend his life. Now I want to do a 365 project.
I will focus on one thing each day of the entire year. If anyone reading this decides to come on board, your interpretation of my daily focus is your own. Many of us initiate something similar when we make resolutions for the new year. We won’t even think about how many of those resolutions make it beyond the first week of January. I will, however, do my best. If I fail, because failure is always a possibility even when positive thinkers tell us “don’t even think about failing,” it doesn’t make me ‘bad’ person, nor does it mean that all is lost, I will simply missed one thing and will try again.
Life gets to be a tangle, going, growing this way, then that. Go to the light.
Life is slowing down as the holidays approach. I work at a university and today is the last day of finals. The student population is thinning as each finishes and leaves for home, faculty are more scarce as they wrap up classes and can do more of the leftover work at home, few deadlines right now — just a collective catching of breath. People stop and visit in the hallways, little gifts appear on desks with grateful notes, and one occasionally catches the illusive fragrance of shared treats. Quite lovely actually.
I love this time of year — most people do. I love it for the slowing down, the visits, the camaraderie, for the reflective time, the catching up time, the time to do those things that were low on the priority list but should be done. I love the sights, the smells, the flavors and textures of the holidays. I love the crispness of the air, the warmth of coming indoors, the snuggly mittens, hats and scarves.
And so, for today, I’ll put aside the contention, the anger, the anxiety of life as we live it, and will cling to the warmth, the kindness and good things of living in this beautiful world.
Peace for Every Living Thing.
Please see these links for background on this issue:
Following is the letter I wrote to Keith Rigtrup, Director of the Kanab BLM field office, one of the decisionmakers in the Alton Coal Mine proposal to expand onto public lands.
Please say “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE” to this proposal!
You have the keys to the Kingdom, so to speak. The proposal to expand the Alton Coal Development onto public lands is a heavy-handed, short-term and extremely limited proposal that will benefit a mere handful of people. These lands are public lands, meaning that everyone in this country can consider themselves a part-owner.
The environmental study has shown the environmental and habitat damage that will occur. You, as BLM director in this area, know that these are marginal lands. These lands will NEVER, in our human lifetime, recover from the damage done by this strip coal mine. This mine proposal is not the same as discussing roads and trails. You know this!
If a private land owner decides that he can do this to his property, so be it. It destroys the ecosystem, disrupts wildlife habitat, and destroys the natural beauty of the land but if the owner cares more about his $ intake, it is his right, and on his conscience. These, however, are public lands. You are the director, the manager, the steward of these lands and what lives in them.
I am from southern Utah. I grew up in Cannonville, in Bryce Valley. I know these lands, know their beauty and their fragility. I have extreme concerns for the impact on Bryce Canyon, and other areas westward from this proposed development. My direct concern, however, is for the land itself. It is unbelievable to me that anyone is even willing to consider this proposal knowing the destruction, disruption and lack of recoverability of these lands. You know how long even tracks last in these soils. How can you, knowing this, even consider this proposal? Please, say NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE; please!
Please write and voice your opposition to this proposal. There is a meeting tonight, December 7 at the Salt Lake City Library at 6:00 pm. Please go if possible. Please write:
- Keith Rigtrup, Bureau of Land Management, Kanab Office: UT_Kanab_Altoncoal@blm.gov
- Juan Palma, Bureau of Land Management, Utah State Director: Juan_Palma@blm.gov
- Bob Abbey, Bureau of Land Management, National Director: Director@blm.gov
- Department of the Interior, Attn. Secretary Ken Salazar: firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to other contacts: