I consider myself a pretty easy-going person, I really strive to experience my journey and allow others to experience theirs, without judgment, at least I try, ok. Quite frankly as far as preoccupations go, our society has an overabundance of judgers (notice how I am judging the judgers, wonderful isn’t it!!!) So I try to not fill an already overcrowded field. However, today I am wading in up to my eyeballs, and I am owning up to the fact that this post is a complete and mindful departure from how I intend to be in this world. Today I am a big judger. Whew, that long-winded justification certainly makes me feel better how about you??
So buckle your seatbelts here I go. First, I am appalled that we recently had a chemical spill that fouled the drinking water for approximately 300,000 people in West Virginia. That is similar to saying all of St. Louis or Pittsburg were suddenly without water. Further, at the risk of assuming too much, I believe, had it happened in St. Louis or Pittsburg there would be a public outcry along with the kind of political pomp and circumstance we expect when people are suffering, which would have kept this incident front and center. Instead what actually happened when 16% of the state of West Virginia, one of the poorest states in our country, was told not to use their water except to flush their toilets, well, not much really. It did not even warrant the front page of my hometown newspaper or the leading story on our news that night. Huh!?!?! I can’t even begin to understand the hardships people faced and are still facing in West Virginia. These poor people were blithely consuming this contaminated water, no one is certain for how long, before it was detected. Shortly, after the spill the water was declared safe to drink for everyone except pregnant women and then that was rescinded as premature.
I am not even sure where to begin, you see, first we are dealing with a chemical that was never intended to be in drinking water. No one really knows what we are dealing with. I sit in amazement as people are angry with the water company, really?!?!?!? What about the rules, regulations, lack thereof or disregard for, that was perpetrated by anyone along the chain of custody of that chemical?
Folks I am not sure how to properly express this but this is a big damn deal. If you think this could only happen in West Virginia think again the indifference toward West Virginia will bring this injustice to your local hometown very soon.
When I first heard of the spill, it was the next morning after, so I grabbed every newspaper on the counter at the hotel I was at to find out what the heck happened. I expected to see it on the front page, when in fact only one newspaper had an article about the spill, it was one of those small rectangular articles on the third page of the paper filling a gap next to the continuation of a front page article. I don’t even remember the front page article from that day. I do remember I was absolutely incredulous that it was not front page news. I mean Miley Cyrus twerking made front page news, Gov. Christie’s bridgegate scandal made front page news and now Justin Bieber’s latest episode in his ongoing acting out saga is splashed across the front page of the newspaper. These are life changing issues right??!!!?!?!
I found myself thinking it’s too bad it wasn’t a terrorist’s intentional act that contaminated the water, because that would be really sexy and newsworthy and then people would acknowledge the seriousness of this unbelievably tragic situation. The minute that thought ran across my consciousness I internally chastised myself, that’s a terrible thing to think! Really though, what difference does it make if it were some misguided person following a particular fanaticism, hell-bent on hurting others or if it is a careless or clueless business owner? The end result is the same, so why would we rally and become impassioned if it is perpetrated by one and not the other? We actually have more power to change the effect of the latter, so where is our outrage, why the indifference?
There has been such a lack of passionate response about this incident that I find myself wondering, did I unknowingly slip down a rabbit hole and find myself in an alternate reality? As I am typing this I am trying very carefully to keep from typing the obscenities that are bubbling up my throat like bile needing to be expelled to give me relief. I am thinking of all the people, kids, hospitals, schools, and businesses affected and still affected by this spill. Ugh, breathe.
Each time I see that mug shot of Justin Bieber on the TV I find my face getting flush, I see that pompous smile on his face (at least that is what I make it mean) and I feel a mixture of shame, anger and frustration. I feel like answering the call from Howard Beale the fictional news anchor from the movie Network, when he said and I quote “I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” People we need to wake up, we need to decide what is important for us, for our existence, for our kids, for our community. We have too many misguided people deciding what is important for us to know. Twerking, while funny and intriguing, is not important, political folly while filling our need to feel self-righteous, is not making the world safe or more peaceful, scrutinizing a teen-aged train wreck, does not meet our most basic needs.
I mean seriously our water, mother earth provides us precious water which is absolutely necessary for our survival and we foul that precious resource without so much as a whimper. Someone twerking in front of us or our kids, while awkward and unseemly, is not newsworthy. Getting caught in a traffic jam at a bridge crossing, while contrived and inconvenient, is not a tragedy. A young man making bad choices, while a misuse of talent and energy, does not threaten our way of life. But fouling our drinking water does threaten our very existence. Terrorists frighten me, their ability to destroy life while seemingly detached from the result, frightens the hell out of me. AND I am more frightened by the lack of impassioned response to this incident in West Virginia.
I hope that my fears will be unfounded, when I discover that I simply slipped down a rabbit hole. That the parallel universe I am in, with its complacent and submissive response, is merely an illusion. I hope I emerge from my confines to find out there was indeed outrage, there was concern at the highest levels. That instead of knee-jerk reactions and short-term candy coated fixes, there is deep consideration and thought about what we need to do to make sure that this kind of ridiculous carelessness does not happen again. That in fact our clean water is protected. You will have to excuse me now I have to keep looking for that DRINK ME potion so I can get back to reality!!!!!
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel