With all this time to myself, I have been reading my favorite magazines (Yeah), and watching more TV (Boo). I have also been chatting with my wife, Nora, about my recent blogs claiming the continued evolution of man, and my optimism about this progression. Our discussion was especially pointed during and after we recently watched Gasland 2. For those of you who are unfamiliar with either Gasland 1 or 2, they are documentary films about fracking, specifically about the victims of this new technology. From tap water that easily catches fire to little or no land rights to the land beneath one's home to the many ways the energy industries in conjunction with bought off government representatives and regulators, the Gasland documentaries paint a dim picture of man raping our planet, abusing the rights of ordinary citizens, and placing industry profit over the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
One particularly disturbing scene showed ex-Pa Governor Tom Ridge, now a spokesperson for the gas industry, denying the proof that fracking has caused the poisoning of wells on the The Daily Show. While, I know that this program is a comedy, it was still very disturbing to see and hear laughter concerning this topic while countless families are being forced out of their homes because of the unhealthy conditions caused by fracking. Even sadder, the victims must remain silent once they accept the industry payout for their homes, and so the fracking moves on to the next town as if nothing bad has occurred.
As Nora said more than once, some of these energy execs would f**k a snake for a profit. The revelation that they often employ ex-military who are experts in PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) to isolate the victims within their communities, while rewarding those who benefit from the drilling, says much about how far they will go to obtain methane from the ground. The parallel to the cigarette industry that denied the dangers of their product for thirty years is revealed in the similarity of some of the advertising campaigns. I understand how Nora can watch something like this and conclude that we are slowly killing our planet, that money is more important that people, and that those with the power and connection do anything they want, with no consequences. It makes my belief in man naïve at best, downright stupid at worst.
Yet there is the article in the December Smithsonian on the 2013 American Ingenuity Awards (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/specialreports/2013-American-Ingenuity-Awards/. People in various fields of work who are creating new ways to understand our bodies (Natural Sciences -- Michael Skinner), new ways to explore the universe (Technology -- Adam Steltzner), new ways to improve our health (Physical Sciences -- John Rogers), and new ways to understand where we came from, who we are, and where we are going. Most conducting their research or working at their craft behind the scenes, generally unknown, certainly invisible to the mass media and its obsession with everything bling. Perhaps that is the only way these kind of achievements can be attained. Would these people change their research, their methods, if they were in the limelight, if they answered to the vagaries of what is hot, what is commercial? It makes me wonder how I might change my blog if it were to suddenly be viral. Would I write to my audience? To maintain my audience?
There are also the various citizens of the year that were named end of December, early this year. Regular people who go the extra mile to serve their fellow man. Again, little of no financial reward, perhaps a few minutes of local TV time or a quarter page of newsprint on page 20 of the paper. Just service for the sake of others.
As I mentioned above, I have also been watching a bit more TV lately, especially movies. Of course, Hollywood is expert at heart tugging story lines. The relationship between caddy and golfer in The Legend of Bagger Vance in which the sport is secondary to the metamorphosis of the man who finally overcomes the mental images that have haunted him since the Great War. Or Mr. Hollands Opus which details the story of a music teacher about to be retired due to budget cuts. He thinks his life a waste until an auditorium filled room of his ex-students bids him farewell by performing the symphony he has worked on all his life.
But that is not real life you might say. Art imitates life I would answer. Even if there are not thousands of men and women alive today who successfully struggle to overcome their horrible experiences in war, or if there were not thousands of art and music teachers who have put aside their personal ambitions to inspire the youth of America to understand that while earning a living is important, the colors that make life worth living is found in the arts, the simple fact that someone could imagine these movies and their plots proves that there is hope for man.
Which brings us to crying. I am not sure when it started but a I have become a crier. Not a wailer, but certainly I am often teary eyed. During the course of our recent conversation, Nora asked me about this. I think she suspected that I cry at movies because I am sad for myself, having a rather mundane job, no longer able to afford to travel, as opposed to living the life of a successful writer. To be honest, there may be something to that, but mostly I think I cry so easily because there is so much good to cry about. So much to be inspired about, to be hopeful about.
And, yes, I cry for you Nora. You, who along with our daughter took an abandoned cat to the local vet in hopes of finding her a home. You, who miss our kids when they are away at college. You, who recently made cinnamon rolls from scratch. You who exude so much love despite having had such negative life experiences as a child. I cry for you because I don’t want you to let your fear of man’s greed and hate and ignorance overcome your natural love of life and family.
And yes, I cry for my children, for all children, in hopes that they will also be able to continue to see and experience the wonderful thinks of life. To remain hopeful that their generation will leave the earth a better place, make is so there are less people being abused by those in power, those with money, those born to advantage. To have children of their own, an act in itself that one might consider the ultimate hope for the future, and instill in those children the same hope for the betterment of the next generation.