Between a Rock and a Pipeline
America's newly-elected president had, even before winning the highest office in the land, already gone staunchly on record that he, Ebell, and Pruitt were of similar minds when it came to climate change theories and science. It therefore was a painful but not lethal shock for observant environmentalists when he not only reversed former President Barack Obama's decision to deny the construction of the Keystone Pipeline but cleared the way as well for the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had won a small victory in December 2016 when they protested against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline less than a mile from their reservation. In what might be viewed as an act of compassion toward the tribe and respect for members' traditional view of the Earth as sacred, the Army Corps of Engineers chose to scratch plans to drill under a dammed section of the Missouri River and seek alternative routes for the $3.7 billion pipeline.
The battle a month ago appeared to have ended in a compassionately accountable way. That no longer appeared to be the case after the Dakota Access pipeline was greenlighted and protesters against it pipeline began preparing to re-state their grievances in Washington, D.C. That itself meant lining up behind protesters of other galvanizing political decisions like the presidential executive order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," better known among advocates for diversity and adherence to the U.S. Constitution as the #TravelBan or #MuslimBan executive order.
A Mindfully Compassionate Attitude
So far as anyone can tell, the single driving motive behind dismissing confirmations of climate change is economic profitability. It is almost as if policies are being implemented to imitate the global warming their authors claim does not exist: that is to say they are stoking the flames of political and social divisiveness in ways that heat things up rather than cool them down.
The euphemistically-labeled executive order "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," public attempts to muzzle a free press in a democratic country, the unceremonious alienation of hard-won international trading partners, threats to invade American cities with military forces to resolve domestic issues, and a passion for building walls instead of bridges do not inspire healing or unity. They intensify chaos which those in positions powerful enough to do so can manipulate to their personal advantage with little or no regard for the greater public good.
Notable savings in healthcare costs due to environmental initiatives and investments in clean energy sources have shown repeatedly that a mindful compassionate attitude towards natural environments can and do yield significant financial results. That useful tidbit has been one of Climate Reality Project founder Al Gore's favorite talking points when giving presentations on why it is not too late (or at least wasn't too late?) to stop humanity from destroying itself by becoming better stewards of the Earth.
Moreover, since the survival of our species is contingent upon the survival of the planet, any compassion extended in the spirit of sustaining healthy living environments is energy wisely invested in collective self-preservation. Between ourselves and the planet, Gai is more likely to survive the worst human-created atrocities than human beings are.
Empowered by Grace
The memories of my mother previously inspired by the flowering of her camellia plant go beyond sentimental familial ties. I am only one of many with reasons to reflect on the grace that empowered her Black-American Woman's life during a period even more racially-volatile than what we have seen year after year since the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. In fact, she could have identified very easily (although sorrowfully) with Mothers of The Movement and Black Mothers Against Violence.
Like them, she had screamed and sobbed uncontrollably upon learning in the early 1960s that a bullet had ended her adolescent son Robert Lee's life and rushed the transition of her hair from coal-black to ash-gray. She had pushed her way past barriers of racism, sexism, and classism while holding mostly herself responsible for making the oppressive conditions of our lives better than what they were. Therefore: the lessons from her life on faith, forgiveness, courage, love, accountability, and empathy, all components of a sustainable compassion, are as priceless as the pink camellia blossoms that came to symbolize them.
In the absence of a living authoritative moral presence, such symbols and memories can serve as crucial guideposts leading to better-informed individual actions and most effective organizational practices. None of us can afford--no matter how clever the deals we make or break--to ignore the ominous magnitude of a proven threat bursting into flame, one burning bush at a time, right before our eyes.
1 Feb 2017
Bright Skylark Literary Productions