The thing about the tragedy seen in the news is that sometimes it hardly seems real. ”It can’t really be that bad,” we think. … or numbers and causalities are so high they are incomprehensible. Often it is easier to tune out the horror we see because the magnitude of what we are seeing is just too great and, after all, what can I do about it?
I think the most powerful number is ONE. One person has an identity. One person has a story. One person is manageable and can feel empowered to help. One person is me and one person is you. One person can make a difference.
I think it is somehow easier to see children as individuals. Sometimes it is only through the lens of childhood — humanity’s shared experience — that we both ground ourselves and are compelled to action.
This series, Horizon, warns us to take action now, honor our past, and make better decisions for the sake of the future. Our pasts come in various shapes and sizes and it’s what we do with our past that defines us, not merely the past itself. Our nation’s long-standing obsession with non-renewable resources must end, and our lament from the visible destruction (otters, gulls, pelicans marred in raw oil) ought to urge us away from this unsustainable path that risks lives daily and the future of the generations to come.
I think it is important to remember that people die so that we can continue to drive our cars and light our homes with fuel from non-renewable resources.
On April 5th 2010, the big news story of the day was about the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster
. We were riveted as we waited for news of survivors. None came
. Twenty-nine people were dead. That number is comprised of 13 fathers, 29 sons, 14 husbands, 3 grandfathers, uncles, coaches, brothers… not to mention the other roles these men had as providers, friends, and loved ones. 24 children lost their fathers and 6 grandchildren lost their grandfathers. These numbers were hard to come by and are most likely low because some miners didn’t have obituaries, but it’s the best I could figure from my research. Many of the miners were too young to be married and start families. One man was just 5 weeks from retirement and had booked a cruise for he and his wife to celebrate that May. And that is just the story of one. This was the worst coal disaster in US history since 1970.
Then 15 days later the story vanished from the headlines.
On Tuesday, April 20th 2010, an oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 men
. Among them, 9 fathers, 10 husbands, 11 sons, uncles, co-workers… not to mention AGAIN the other roles these men had as providers, friends, and loved ones. 17 children are left fatherless as a result of this tragedy. One child, the second child of Gordon Jones and his wife, was born weeks after his father died and will never feel his father’s embrace.
I guess that I made these images to help us remember that it’s not just pelicans and otters that get covered in our excavated non-renewable resources. As a culture we are neck deep in it and we, each ONE of us, needs to find to help curb this addiction we have on non-renewable energy.