Indifference: Black History and Environmental Neglect

POTUS failed to mention some very important issues that many of us are concerned about in his SOTU address. Perhaps the following will not fall on deaf ears:

Noise! Is all around but it gets blocked out. Indifference sets in. The steady, relentless noise assaults the senses and numbs and deadens the planets’ well-being. The unnatural sounds from the machines and the vibration of prejudice are deafening. Sirens shout “beware!” there is danger about. All this noise takes the senses away and misdirects their attention. There is no gentle wind in the trees or songs of the birds as they communicate with their tweets. The ignorance of bliss is unbroken as the noise prevails and natural sounds are drowned out.

There are parallels between natural history and African American history. It is easy to be indifferent to the injustice, disrespect, and fear that both our environment and African American brothers and sisters have endured. Our natural and social history is chains of events that have lead to the current dilemmas of the world. We have arrived at the crossroads of environmental justice and social justice. The time for change is now.

Sometimes the noise is quiet for a while and a glimpse of what can be is seen. The values of the natural and social connections of spaceship earth are revealed. These precious times of silence dissolves our prejudice. Admiration for the beauty and depth of humanities true nature is recognized. In silence the relentless assault on common sense is suspended.
But inevitably the abyss of doubt overcomes rationality. Things are too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry or too windy or too calm. Differences become nuisance or danger. Diversity becomes annoying or even hazardous. The trees, like cultural foundations, stand strong and silent and resolute. They are grand and well respected until they get in the way of progress. The bonds of nature and human relations are

Segregated. And yet, these bonds to nature, and to one another, are the fabric of the world.
But Who Cares? Humanity is too busy and too stressed and too preoccupied with life’s struggles. It overwhelms. Nature and social ills exist outside of awareness. Like trees falling in the woods. Is there a sound? Not when the mantra is ‘out of sight / out of mind’ or ‘too busy with too much to do’. No time to smell flowers or listen to the birds or experience the essence of the plants and animals and one another. Fear of nature and one another leads to disrespect and distrust. The communion with the earth and one another is lost. The symbiotic relationships of the planet and its passengers are severed. The plants, the animals and all the crew of spaceship earth don’t matter anymore.

Too often in our communities are frightening and unnatural sounds. Grinders eating trees like hungry gluttons and loud BANGS like M-80’s on the 4th of July, but it is not the 4th of July, and the bangs are not M-80’s. This is the state of the world right now. Just some more trees falling in the forest that nobody hears. Just another day, when the effects of the disconnect from nature results in senseless violence against one another and the planet. When fallen trees and shattered lives are shrugged off, indifference becomes the rule, and nothing gets done to fix the schism.

Breaking the allure of isolation and hostility is a task humanity must embark on to adapt to the new reality. Science tells us we have about 12 years. This is not too much time to do what needs to be done. Everyone must take responsibility for his or her contribution to ecological imbalance. Let’s own up to it and then do something about it. The answer is simple. RAIN BARRELS!

B. Mitchell
The author is an Environmentalist / Entrepreneur and the proud grandparent of two beautiful African American children.