Oh, the shame of it! What a grand humiliation!
A few days ago, some random troll made two postings on the Fragile Waters Facebook page. One proclaiming us “tree huggers,” and the other saying that we can't/won't change anything.
First, let me set the record straight; I am not a tree hugger. There's good reason for that, too. I'm allergic to most trees (same with grasses and hay). It's not that I wouldn't hug a tree, it's just that I don't want the itchy eyes and clogged nose that goes with it. I cannot speak for Shari, who may indeed hug an occasional tree, but – in my case – tree hugging is strictly off the table. Though, when I lived in Florida, I was known to hug a few palm trees.....but that was mainly a support measure after imbibing a little too much liquid spirits.
Second, we've already “changed things.” There are 2,450 people just here on Facebook who can attest to the fact that we are getting the word out about the plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whales and king salmon. Our main goal was to educate folks about the issues and start some serious conversations. Fragile Waters (and our work on the film) has been a part of more than 13 newspaper articles, two magazine stories, four radio programs and countless web postings. The film itself includes a sitting Congressman, Tribal leaders, scientists and activists. We hope that we continue to reach people, too, and that the film inspires more action. Ultimately, we hope we are a part of the effort that will save the resident orcas and chinook. But, when it comes to “change,” I can say we've accomplished that. Even if we'd only reached a single person and they learned something previously unknown to them through us, it would be measurable change.
Now, while the person who posted what they believed were biting insults may have been laughably trite in their content, I feel they represent a very sad portion of the Human experience...and one we should actually hear clearly.
The posts were not well-articulated, meaningful or evocative. The troll merely spouted catchphrases. But why even go out of their way to post in the first place? The answer is that “tree hugger” was, to them, a very seething indictment about anyone who is working to save the environment. Furthermore, they likely feel that “saving the environment” is a waste of time, money and resources.
That's the most disturbing part of it all. To have the view that stewardship of the environment is of little or no concern and those who work to preserve and repair the world's eco systems are doing something of little or no value, show's a painful disconnect between an individual and the environment they live in.
We are ALL a part of the “environment.” No Human ape exists outside of it – except the occasional astronaut. We all need: air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and shelter to protect us from the elements. Those are undeniable needs of every single one of the seven billion people who inhabit the Earth. You are not separate from your environment, nor master of it. If you doubt that you might want to check-in with the billions of living organisms that call your own body home. We share our houses with insects, plant life and other animals – some we welcome, some we do not.
In order to survive – thrive – we MUST coexist and coexist really well with the natural world around us. If we fail in that, we die. Period. There's no debating this fact....even if you're uncomfortable with it.
Ah, there's the issue.
I think folks, like the one who posted the “tree hugger” comment, are truly uncomfortable with the dire severity of the situation that we, as a species, are currently in. Phrases like acid rain, global warming, ocean plastics, ocean acidification and mass extinctions are absolutely frightening to contemplate, let alone accept and deal with. There is little that is as unsettling as realizing you've inherited fait accompli (something that was decided before you'd even heard of it, and an absolute fact), which makes you feel small and impotent. The defense mechanism for some people is to become willfully ignorant and simply deny the dangers at hand. The big words for that is “cognitive dissonance.”
But being “willfully ignorant” does not (in any way) mean these people are not intelligent. It means they are coping with disturbing information by shelving it and living in the bliss of believing all is right with the world. It is a survival strategy, and one I cannot fault people on, no matter how disturbing it may seem.
I'm a combat veteran. I actually understand why people choose to avoid thinking about (and dealing with) stark realities. For me, Post Traumatic Stress is rife with suppressed thoughts, emotions and an aversion to dealing with things that were absolutely frightening, horrific and obscene. But a huge part of moving forward in life, and regaining strength, has been acknowledgment of the experiences that I've tried hard to forget. Partially, it's so I can function productively....but mostly it's because of my children.
And that's my point.
You find courage to face these issues, accept them and work on what you can, or you allow it to drag you down and the future of your children with it. When it comes to the environment, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would rollover and give-up, knowing that my son and daughter will inherit our ecological legacy. The courage is in all of us.
Be courageous enough to hug a tree...or die trying. Crap, now I'm going to go hug a tree.