Thursday, August 29, 2013
I'm reading a truly wonderful book written by the poet Mary Ruefle. By wonderful I mean intelligent and engaging, humble and erudite. It is a collection of lectures titled Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Press 2012).
In the lecture she calls "Fear," she asks us to consider John Berger's "succinct and frightening sentence."
"Everywhere these days more and more people knock their heads against the fact that the future of our planet, and what it will offer or deny to its inhabitants, is being decided by boards of men who control more money than all the governments in the world, who never stand for election, and whose sole criterion for every decision they take is whether or not it increases or is prone to increase Profit."
My first encounters with questioning the costs and benefits of Profit came during my high school years, during the 1970s, but not in high school itself. These encounters came at church.
One Sunday, Brother Moody, also known as Dr. Moody, a professor of agricultural economics at Arizona State University--the university down the street from my high school I would later attend--cautioned against "too much profit." Dr. Moody warned that this pursuit was harmful to the Economy, writ large.
Meanwhile, during my zero-hour seminary classes, held across the street from my high school in a church-owned building, I was trying to understand what it was Jesus was trying to teach us.
Among the several lessons that have stuck with me was a philosophical question that went something like this: What is a man profited if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?
Right now, extreme efforts are underway by a consortium of two of the world's largest multi-national mining corporations--London-based Anglo-American and Canada's Northern Dynasty--to get US government-approval to build the Pebble Mine.
This mine would be one of the world's largest open-pit copper, gold, and molybdenum mines and would be located at the headwaters of Bristol Bay--at the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers--one of the most productive wild salmon habitats in the world.
Not only is the area environmentally sensitive, it is seismically sensitive, and would include the world's largest earthen dam, a dam which scientists claim may not withstand a seismic event of a magnitude of the 1964 Anchorage earthquake. What are we willing to risk for Profit?
Daily, it seems, I ask myself if today is the day we humans will snap out from under the spell of the large and small Profits that cause all of us to put our ecosystems--and their sustainability--at risk. It seems that day will always be tomorrow, and for someone else.
Here in Northern California, we've made life all but unsustainable for salmon and steelhead in the once-prolific Russian River, one minor--or major--diversion of water at a time. Globally, our minor and major actions have radically, perhaps irreversibly, altered our atmosphere.
So why the photograph of Mono Lake? To remind myself that Soul sometimes prevails over Profit, and how it is done.
Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
My nephew and I enjoyed our second annual summer road trip to Lees Ferry and a day on the Colorado with Mick Lovett, owner and operator of Marble Canyon Outfitters.
As was the case last year, we were talking about next year's trip by mid-morning. We had also stopped counting the fish we'd caught as we were well into the double digits. Follow this hyperlink to Mick's blog and photos of three vibrant rainbows my nephew caught.
I also had the opportunity to present Mick with a contributor's copy of Spillway No. 20 in which my poem, "Marble Canyon," appears. The poem is dedicated to the memory of his father, Rocky, and the place both he and Mick love so much.