Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday Gumbo: Consequences. And Grumpy

Back in the district. . .

I'm sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops sipping a coffee and bailey's and finishing up all those things you get to do when on holiday, like getting $400 of charges off my credit card from my storage unit who has absolutely no record of any of them at all. And not being in the mood for small talk about my new years eve plans while you can't find my money. Give me my money, bitches!

I'm almost done with 'Stones into Schools'. I've read over 300 pages in the past couple days. It's not a book for those with little time on their hands, that's for sure. As my cousin has less than a week before his next deployment, the chapters on the US military and their relationships with rural Afghani villages has been especially interesting to me.

'During these encounters, I was struck by the realization that some of the values held by cadets, officers, and enlisted personnel seemed to mirror my own. For example, many of these people displayed genuine humility, as well as a deep respect for other cultures. After spending time with them, it was also clear to me that their patriotism was rooted in, among other ideals, a reverence for tolerance and diversity. . . .

'Eventually, I came to understand that a group of people who wield enormous power happen, oddly enough, to espouse some of the very same ideals imparted to me by people in Africa and central Asia who have no power at all. The reason for this, in my view, is that members of the armed forces have worked on the ground - in many cases, during three or four tours of duty - on a level that very few diplomats, academicians, journalists, or policy makers can match. And month other things, this experience has imbued soldiers with the gift of empathy.'

I will not pretend for one second that this is true across the board. People are unique and come to situations with their own life experiences that make them react and understand the situation before them differently. These sections also seem to be more about softening the divide between those that fight in this war and those that are suffering the consequences. But I believe that he has met people that feel this way and probably more than I believe he has. I also think, from having read his books and interviews, that he is an exceptional man with a large, tolerant and patient heart. Things we all deserve to see in those we meet.

On December 22 2008, a Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Plant suffered a catestrophic coal ash spill of 5.4 million cubic yards (enough to flood 3,000 acres about a foot deep) that drowned nearby communities. It has been called the worst environmental disaster in the United States. Coal ash has been given away by some companies as a way to fertilize land even as coal ash regulation is being considered by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Jackson stated that regulation would be put into place by the end of 2009, though this has been pushed back due to the "complexity of the analysis'. During the past year, it was found that there exists 584 other coal ash waste sites, 49 of them are high hazard and have the potential to kill those that nearby. EPA, in its advice to those receiving coal ash waste for their land, states it is not hazardous to crops, surface water or humans. You're confusing me, Lisa Jackson!

There are remaining questions as to whether TVA explained all the dangers to those living near the ash pond, after having comparing the dangers of coal ash waste to table salt, and stated in a report that throughout 2009 the company had learned the 'importance of listening'. Donald Smith, a local TVA neighbor, explained days after the spill, “It was nice that they came by to talk to us. They’re making an effort. But what upsets me is they didn’t have a plan in place. Why hadn’t anybody thought, ‘What happens if this thing bursts?’”

The TVA coal ash spill isn't just impacting those that live nearby however. There are consequences to those that live in Perry County, Alabama where the waste is being shipped. Most governmental officials welcomed the dumping because of the jobs it would bring by expanding the landfill, but many in the communities that live near the landfill are opposed to this new hazard. Given TVA's new found learning of the importance of listening, you would think that security around the Alabama landfill wouldn't be so tight and those in charge wouldn't be refusing to give interviews on the situation. Its true listening isn't the same as providing information, but then whats the fucking use of listening in the first place?

(First F-word of the day. See mom, I don't always use profanity! Though my friend's brother at Christmas dinner whose face was red for most of our conversation on health care reform might disagree. I was quite impressed with my colorful language I have to admit.)

Anyways, consequences. . . . The spill happened in Tennessee is being shipped to Alabama and 49 other cities have been warned about the fact this too could happened to their town and now you know about it. What are you going to do with this new information?

New consequences: The other night, my friend's cousin casually mentioned, completely unprovoked, during dinner that he hates gay people because they flaunt their sexuality and that he has never met a gay person that didn't. Something just clicked at that moment for me and I decided that I'm tired to being tolerant of people that hate people they have never met. I actually was so fucking tired of having to talk about why two people should be allowed to love one another and that being a christian means loving people unconditionally, that I stood up and walked out. I didn't return to say goodbye or say it was nice meeting you, because I no longer meant it. And I'm tired of having to say things I don't mean.

My friend said that she wanted to talk to him and make him understand that gay people aren't evil and bad and its ok to live your life and let them live their lives. Good on you, girl. Because I'm fucking done caring about bigotted, ignorant, selfish assholes that want to take basic human rights away from people because of who they love. Because they believe a person that beats the shit out of their family deserves more respect than someone that dedicates their entire life to loving one person who happens to be the same sex as them. Done.

Oh . . I'm grumpy today. I need to head outside and walk in the sunlight.

Renee Claire

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