The whole mess in Colorado with the juggernaut pollution of the Animas River has weighed heavily on my mind. Not because of fishing, of which I am most fond, but of the greater implications. Implications that will remain long after the water has cleared and the event that caused this mess is relegated to remembrance.
Several years ago, when the industrial revolution was still in its infancy, somebody should have had the good sense to keep this from happening. But during that time, the acres of untouched land in our country far outnumbered the acreage receiving the abuse so the powers that be, and the population as a whole didn’t give it much thought. And so the cogs of the machine engaged and businesses became intoxicated by the profits. What we as a species kicked into gear was a slow and self-inflicted death by agricultural attrition.
So now, moving forward, the ancient mess has once again kicked down the door and proved itself unable to be trusted. And sadly, the voices who seek to cry out for repentance have either grown silent, or they themselves have become addicted to the process and product to the point that they try to justify the whole thing to their own satisfaction.
We have become so accustomed to disaster that we don’t give it much thought. The electronic world we live in and the news it provides have left us to react in a way that is more resignation. We have become numbed to the reality that we are willingly destroying the earth. We pump gallon after gallon of gasoline into our cars and trucks and perhaps never think of taking fewer trips, or Heaven forbid we walk or ride a bike if we are physically able. And earthen trinkets like coal, zinc, uranium or gold have been a siren song, calling big business and government to go to whatever means necessary to have more and more. In the wake of such desires the land is mistreated and though the propaganda says that every jot and tittle is employed in the restoration of the land, the land itself proves that it is a lie. And beautiful ecosystems like the Animas cry out for something to be done.
So what can we do?
It is lunacy to think that it could all come to a screeching halt. We are too deep in the rabbit hole to break the chain and climb to the surface. We have connected ourselves to the products and finances to just drop it like a stone and forget about it. Therefore we must settle in for the long haul and do what we can in our realm of influence and cut a large portion of patience as we try to grab a foothold on change. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, and to that I say amen. But the puzzle of acting out the wise man’s advice extends perhaps further than we are willing to walk.
If you say you are against something, then by nature, you should also stand against the things it is connected to. If you are against the drilling of oil or the construction of pipelines, then you must also say that you are against those things tethered to it. If you take a long look at oil as an example, you will quickly see that the vast majority of your life if not all of it is totally dependent upon pulling oil from the earth. Perhaps that is why the environmental causes in our country are so few in voice. It is shallow and empty to rail against something when you are actually in need of it. The voice of a hypocrite will only resonate so far. It is when the voice is 100% committed that it begins to reverberate. You find enough people truly committed and you gain volume.
So today the Animas is sick and as that water flows into other bodies of water, the sickness will spread. Soon enough things will show improvement to the point that folks are at least comfortable with it. But somewhere waiting in the wings is another tragedy that will bring things back to the table for discussion. Given time, the Animas will heal itself and nature will do as it always does in that it will attempt to restore that which was damaged. But it is up to us to assist nature as much as we can, and take a long look in the mirror. Just how far are we willing to go before we throw in the towel?
I live in coal country and could take you to a myriad of ticking time bombs. Ground so abused that entire mountain tops are as flat and clean as a dining room table. Runoff from abandoned mines that looks as if a child’s crayon box were melted down and mingled with the water. Coal was the work of my grandfathers and through it my family survived, but now, two full generations later we are left with the mess the played a part in creating which is an uncomfortable place to reside.
If you wish to get involved then by all means do so with all the gusto you can pull from within. Just remember that there will be a point you will reach in which you must make a choice. Do you continue on and lay down the links to the problem, or will you stop dead in your tracks realizing that you are no different than the majority. You are addicted to something that will leave your voice mute.
We need to realize that alternative options exist, get busy on setting to right as much as we can, and do everything possible to make a difference in the portion of earth in which we have been charged. Maybe if enough people will just do that small thing, it will grow into a much larger thing – a true movement. What happened on the Animas could have been avoided a long time ago. Let’s hope that we see where the next man made error is lurking and move to fix it before it is too late.