Photo by Venice Paparazzi
There are some things we humans have just one of. We have one heart, one liver, one tongue, one nose... Of course, there are probable anomalies to even these similarities. I'm sure in the annals of medicine there are cases of individuals with multiples of even these, although physiologically we humans need just one.
Our organs are individual and perform at different degrees of efficiency. My heart is different from yours, as are the rest of my organs. Although we all have one heart, one liver, one tongue, one nose, we don't all share the same one, and the ones we have all vary from one another. We're similar, yet unique.
Okay, by now you're probably wondering 'where the hell is she going with this?'
Just hang with me for a bit while I try to explain. I know I'm being obtuse and waxing way more philosophical (and physiological) than my average intelligence allows. But I'm inspired to say a bit more...
You see, there is one thing - I'll qualify this for those who believe in a god by saying, one PHYSICAL thing, that all humans and all living creatures have just one of. In fact, not simply one of, but the same one of. And not simply the same one of, but the same shared one of. It's the one physical thing I can identify that all beings share, and that all human beings would agree we all share. That one physical thing we all share is our planet.
Our one magnificent planet.
We have but one shared planet, and as I see it, it should be our greatest love. Without it, we physical beings - in fact all physical beings - would cease to exist. We must do all we can to protect it.
We who are selfish, who sacrifice our planet to fulfill desires not related to sustainment, are earth-perps. Every drowned polar bear incriminates us. Every oil-asphyxiated dolphin, pelican and turtle inculpates us. Every decapitated mountain besmirches us. Every toxic landfill debases us.
Any annihilation and destruction that weakens our one planet and destroys its inhabitants for reasons other than essential sustenance, dehumanizes us. Plain and simple.
For centuries, our planet has been victimized by the reasoning beings it sustains. As years have progressed, we reasoning beings have victimized it more and more. We're killing it with fossil fuels. We're murdering our only home with the poisons of organisms millions of years decomposed. And I'm helping. I drive a car. I use electricity. I own products of petroleum base. My culpability and criminality are daily. I'm an earth-perp. And I really need to change.
What's odd is... even though I'm an earth-perp, and have been my life long, to others on our planet I'm still not baad enough. They want me to do even more harm. I'm mocked for scrupulous recycling. I'm dumb for not eating animals. I'm strange for not relishing leather. I'm nuts for refusing plastic bottles. I'm crazy for gray-watering plants. I'm just a loon. I cry for the rain forest. I pine for the ice caps. I grieve over the spill in our ocean. But as planet-loving as those others believe I am, to me, I'm barely planet-loving at all. I'm an earth-perp. I'm part of the problem. And I need to change.
So I seek community.
I gravitate to the like-minded. Those I seek share my shame and my pain and are working to make needed changes. We mourn the spill in the gulf. Its catastrophe overwhelms us, even at this, its very early stages. No one yet is cognizant of how damaging it will be. The predictions of eco-system destruction are unfathomable. We've attacked from below in the subaqueous riches of our planet. We've exploded its insides and its poisons are spilling out. We are earth's most deadly inhabitants.
My like-minded community suffers the pain of knowing how reckless we are, and inferior to resolve our own havoc. We suffer knowing that greed trumps the blow-back of irreversible harm. We've decimated the oceans, the forests, the habitats, the animals, and the people of earth's most plentiful regions.
I seek community, and I need that community to grow.
This past week on the Huffington Post, Stefanie Sekich posted a blog about the global Hands Across The Sand events scheduled for this past Saturday. I'd already known I was attending one in Venice, California, organized by CODEPINK. We were to create an aerial image, directed by artist John Quigley, of people standing joining hands, and others positioned on the sand to form messages. I was anticipating the event - not because I fool-heartily believed it would quell the gulf spill.
Of course not.
I was anticipating the event because, at this moment, unity and community are what I can give, and what I most need. I grew up on the ocean. I treasure it more than anything. It's been my solace, my guru, my inspiration and my friend. I wanted to face it in communion with others to express my apology, commitment and love.
I commented on Stefanie's blog, "Yes Stefanie... I absolutely plan to be there!!"
Right after my comment, a second commenter wrote, "Waste of time..."
As a writer and activist, I'm used to being critiqued by those who don't agree, and by those who question my actions. But where most comments have minor affect, this "Waste of time..." annoyed me. I thought a lot about it.
If the commenter meant our beach action wouldn't stop the oil from spilling, he was correct. If he meant by holding hands, we couldn't affect corporate greed or government ineptitude, he was correct. But as to being a "waste of time" - on that he was dead wrong.
What that commenter failed to understand is the value of communal passion and shared expression. What that commenter failed to understand is the need for unity and community during crisis - particularly this crisis - that affects the one physical thing we ALL share and cannot exist without.
We have but one planet. It should be the love of our lives, and we need to save it together - as one global family.
There are ways we can learn.
In February, 2009, I attended a screening of Fuel, winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary. It's directed and narrated by young filmmaker and environmentalist, Josh Tickell, who grew up in Louisiana. A year and a half ago, when I first saw Josh's movie, it affected me profoundly. I was particularly struck by its scenes describing the damage oil had already done to the Gulf. The historic depths of deep water drilling were addressed, and they were chilling. Oil was widely dispersed through the waters and being processed on the land. People and animals were sick and dying. The film was prophetic.
I have the Fuel DVD at home. After our Hands Across the Sand action, I watched the film again and found it more informative than ever - on the gulf oil region - and the effects of oil on our planet.
Here's the trailer. If you want to learn more about oil, Fuel is the film to see.
As to the comment that our Hands Across The Sand was a waste of time, I believe it was quite the opposite. It was a success for those who were there.
Did our actions stop the oil spill? Of course not.
Did we express our love for our planet as part of the global community, creatively, and in unity?
Here are more photos. You be the judge:
Photo by Venice Paparazzi
Photo by Linda Milazzo
Photo by Patricia Foulkrod
From my perspective, this was no waste of time. We have just ONE planet. We need to collectively honor it. And we all must change to save it.