I checked in with a local television station early this morning to hear the weather report on this first day of August, also known as Lughnasadh, a Celtic celebration of the “first fruits” from the summer’s harvest. The temperature would be in the mid-90’s again, said the meteorologist, who then summed up our recent weather saying, “We’ve experienced 31 days of temperatures 90◦ or above this summer, and our July was hotter than the temperatures in Tampa and Los Angeles.”
Our first fruits are weak and withered this year, dying from thirst.
I thought about the overwhelming majority of climatologists whose scientific training leads them to conclude we are in a time of dramatic climate change, and that its effects have been greatly magnified and accelerated by our dependency upon machinery that spews CO² into the atmosphere. Those who make money from this machinery and/or the products created by it, deny these facts and use their wealth to lobby (i.e., threaten, pressure, bully, and buy) politicians who might otherwise enact laws to curtail our environmental destruction.
We are often so flooded with data that it’s difficult to derive meaning and chart a path of wisdom and action. Data can be spun from so many sources, including thin air, and used so attractively to support different points of view.
Here are some other statistics I encountered today, reading through the August 3rd issue of The Week, a magazine that collects “the best of the U.S. and international media.” (www.theweek.com):
[An editorial in the Daily Mirror (U.K.), stated that] Britain …banned all handguns in the wake of the 1996 school massacre in Dunblane , Scotland…Assault rifles and automatic weapons, it should go without saying, have been banned since the 1930’s. Last year, 52 Brits were killed with guns…less than the carnage in the U.S. where 31,347 were killed in 2009.
And more data, gleaned from another article in this issue of The Week:
Over a period of two months, [James Holmes, the alleged shooter in Aurora Colorado’s recent tragedy] bought a semiautomatic variation of the military’s M-16 assault rifle, a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and at least one Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol from local dealers. He also bought and stockpiled 6,000 rounds of ammunition from online sources. Every purchase he made was legal.
The gun lobby in our country, fueled by the NRA’s seemingly endless wealth, fights for our “right” to maintain such weaponry access as the status quo, despite international statistics supporting data (and perhaps logic) indicating that less access results in less murder.
My state recently prevented, by a very narrow margin, a mining company from rewriting our long-cherished environmental laws to suit its desire to seize greedily from the earth and her people, “buying” natural resources we cannot renew. They said their mine would create jobs, even as it poisoned the workers’ water and destroyed their land. The state legislature’s Republican majority has vowed to renew the “fight” for their friends in this mining corporation.
I fear we are a people who have lost our way. Greed and individual rights have transcended the need for us to co-create wisely with the rest of nature. We seem to be saying to each other and the rest of the world, “If I want it, I deserve it; if I desire it, it will be mine.” And we bow to those with the wealth to fulfill our wishes. Even if they kill us.
This path will lead us to our end, taking the innocent with us, for we are part of the web that connects every precious particle of our planet. And of all species on the web, we are among the most recent guests. But rather than humbly and gratefully taking our place as responsible and respectful members, we’re like noisome thugs who crash the party, steal all the gifts, and burn down the house as we storm away.
We’ve already destroyed much of the web in the name of sport, progress, wealth, and individual rights. We are an arrogant species, dominating the weaker and following the path of aggression when all along, we might have chosen collaboration.
Our birth has invited us to be one in community with all creation. No right exists, or ever will, that allows us to discount any of these relationships. The web is sacred, and dependent upon each of us to honor our place and respect the power and presence of every other created particle. Setting down the crazed burdens of greed and wealth, we would be better able to embrace one another and restore the earth’s health before we cannot.
Tonight’s full moon is the first of two this month. I’m sitting beneath it and pondering a planet that offers only joy to people who scorn the gift and destroy the giver.
I dread the day a last voice sighs, “Here was our heaven, now gone, forever,” but I see it coming. I have only to look at the stunted cornfield outside my window. And hear the rifles at the “game farm” beside it.