Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal.
Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?
Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.
Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.
Oh, it’s personal all right. “Away” isn’t away anymore. Away is right here. In my backyard.
My beautiful emerald pastures? Today my cows graze under the watch of what looks like a towering office building. A perfect, uninterrupted view of a fracking rig, humming and brightly lit 24/7. Strangers pressing for their right to access your property with their firm but subtle threats that there’s no point in holding out; you have no rights or choices. No rights, choices or possibility for reimbursement because of leases signed long ago by people you don’t even know at a time when the concept of fracking was beyond imagining.
What’s happening in your head as you read this? Have you decided you already know what I’m about to say and has your brain quickly shifted gears from listening mode to deflective snappy retort mode? An immediate, smart, flippant and shielding comment is all it takes to prevent you from actually having to acknowledge me.
Well, save your energy. This isn’t the kind of post you think it’s going to be. But it would be a good thing for you to take a step outside yourself and ponder why we are repelled by the knowledge that many benefits in our lives have come at the expense of others.
By choice, I don’t have much these days in the way of extravagance or luxury. I stress the by choice part because I don’t want in any way to diminish the struggles of those who have no choice. That’s the subject of another post altogether.
The riches I do have? My “benefits” are things money just can’t buy.
- The peaceful beauty of being surrounded by nature every day
- The darkest of dark nights, free from the constant glow of the city’s lights
- The sparkliest of stars and the most magical moon
- The golden glow of the setting sun on the fields
- The pleasure of the sustaining gifts nature provides
- True quiet where you can hear the call of each individual bird
- Plenty of cool water running though my streams, splashing down a waterfall and collecting in a peaceful pool sustaining deer, birds and small animals
- Fertile fields, unspoiled soil and content, healthy animals
- Unpolluted food and satisfying, rewarding work preserving vitally important resources for future generations
It is true: love something, anything, a piece of land, a herd of cows, a spouse or a child and risk having your heart broken. But do me a favor. If you are the heart break-er, do the break-ee a favor and don’t make excuses for yourself or defend your rightness.
You decided that your immediate needs are more important than mine. Don’t sugar coat it. Don’t deflect with a smart flip statement. Have the character to acknowledge the pain you’ve left in your wake. Be courageous enough to fully dwell on the impact of that which you are determined to do on those who will pay the price.
Don’t add insult to injury by belittling the pain and pressing it out of your mind. And don’t hide behind elected officials as if you had nothing to do with it.
Because be honest, you who feel you must have instant this, on demand that, wear shorts in the house all winter long, throw away 40% of your food and spend your days running errands in your SUV? You won’t be the one who is paying the price. For any of it.
It will be people like me. Those least able to bear the financial burden of protecting ourselves.
People like me will lose their haven, their peace of mind, their equity, their safety and possibly their businesses.
We will be pressed with additional financial burdens necessary to defend oneself against an environmental assault. We will not have the protection of our insurance companies or our elected officials.
And we will not have the courtesy of a second thought from you, to whom “Away” continues to be out of sight & mind.