Wednesday, February 15, 2012

you can say to this mountain....

I think this is take on the impossible week for me. I'll slip into my "disclaimer voice" and tell you I'm involved in things every day that only God can make right. I suppose that's true even just because I wake up in my own skin. But this week, I've been praying for the faith to move mountains -- or, you know, not.

On one hand, I'm trying for faith to move mountains that stand between us and going to see our friends. For that to happen, a girl needs to be strengthened enough to go home and we need over $1000 more dollars. We have been blown away by people's generosity thus far and really moved to tears that people would come together to help make this happen.

On the other hand, I'm fighting against mountains that are being moved -- real ones. And these not by faith, but by big machines run by few people. I came to Kentucky this week to attend I Love Mountains day. My cousin (okay..maybe he's my 2nd or 3rd cousin. What is your dad's cousin's son?) who lives back where I'm from in Harlan County told me about it and was gracious enough to take me with him. I have never attended a protest in my life. And I know there are so many issues about justice that are worthy of being championed. But I've been really impressed in reading a little Wendell Berry with the idea that the best way to solve big problems is to work locally. I feel powerless against so many of the world's problems, but this is my hometown and this is what is happening to it, and this is a problem I am qualified to address. (Bottom image is from the State Journal, the Frankfort, KY newspaper; I couldn't climb that high.)

I don't think I can outline all my reasons for going here in this post, because it takes me a lot longer than that to be succinct. But I'm working on it. What I can say is that I long to hear news of back home and truly desire for it to prosper. I know that coal is VERY important to the people of that area. Coal is truly the only reason any of the towns back in those mountains exist. But I hope there is a future there and I want to encourage people to look for it. Coal is not the future for my hometown. Yes, there is coal left in the mountains, but if you have to actually destroy the mountain to get to it, it is not worth getting to. People cannot afford jobs that cost them their health. You cannot buy your way out of cancer or birth defects. Besides that, I think destroying something like an entire mountain in order to get a stripe or two out of it is prideful and wrong. Sentences like that can sound really arrogant coming from an adult, but the child in us knows it's true.

On the way down, I told Iz why we were making the late-night drive from Muncie to Kentucky. "You remember when we went to the mountains where Granny lives?"
"Well, there are some people who want to tear down that mountain."
"But WHY?!"
"Well, because people can make money doing it."
"But they CAN'T!"
"Well, yes, they can. But I'm going down there to ask them not to."
"But, they can't just do that!"
The next day, before I left for the protest, I asked if there was anything he wanted to say about the mountains.
"Well, those mountains are good for walking around on, but we aren't going to do that, anymore."
"Why not?"
"Because there aren't going to be any mountains."

The apple didn't fall too far from the tree in terms of realism vs. optimism, I guess. Maybe he just already has a great understanding of human nature and the way of the world. I hope not. And I sure hope he's wrong.

I don't know if we changed anyone's mind by protesting, but we did draw attention to the issue. And we empowered ourselves to be the one who will do something about it. One man (who was walking on stilts) held up the quote about how all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. I try not to make good guys and bad guys in these matters, but there is definitely a hard but right decision vs. an easy but terrible one here. And all it takes for the terrible decision to be made is for the rest of us to feel like there's nothing we can do about it. But I'm doing something. And especially if this is a local issue to you (did you know those of us in Indiana get our electricity from the destruction of mountains?), I want you to know that you can do something about it. I'm no college student and I'm not a hippie. But I can go to a protest. My brain isn't as articulate as it was a few years ago, perhaps, but I can write letters. No one leaves comments on my blog, but I can write entries to influence whoever I can. :) So I do. I'm going to do whatever I can, because it beats doing nothing. And I'm not alone.