Sunday, April 21, 2013


Friday morning I woke to 15 inches of new snow. I have lived here for eleven winters now, and I have never seen a single snowstorm like this. Oh wait...this isn't winter anymore. This is April. Last year at this time I was spending my work days riding around in boats on open water.

School was canceled, and there was no way my Ford Focus was going to make it out the driveway or our back road, which didn't get plowed until late in the afternoon. So I emailed the office, saying I would not be in, and settled down to a cup of coffee and checking the news online...something about a manhunt in Boston

All day Friday had a surreal, dreamlike quality to it. I usually relish a day at home, but I had a hard time settling down to do anything. I was disoriented, not by the national news, but the mound of snow pressing against my back door, snow that had slid off the metal roof. After a long Minnesota winter, just when robins have arrived and normally I'd be hearing the frog chorus...the relentless snow, the woodpile buried and almost gone, how much more can one take? I'm beyond the trite complaining that has become a staple of Minnesota culture, the resolve of those who say they hate it here but somehow can never bring themselves to pick up and leave. I love it here; I have lived other places, and this is the only place I'll ever call home. But with the flood and the April snow all within the space of a year, the moose near the Canadian border dying off at an alarming rate, intense windstorms leveling forests just to the south of here, I get this uneasy feeling that this is the beginning of a long storm to come, a storm we humans have helped to create...I'll come back to that later.

While the Boston Marathon bombing was a horrible, malicious act, I have been disturbed by the media coverage surrounding it. Sure, the news outlets have a job to do, but it seems lately none of them have the grace to say "we don't know yet." Speculation, intimidation. And Twitter, so I can hear the latest unfounded speculation. And while yes, this was big, Boston is not the center of everyone's universe, and this was not a national crisis. That's just what a terrorist would want us to think.

What's more, it seems the media had this double standard of wanting to make us scared, yet highlighting acts of "bravery" that make us feel all warm and fuzzy about ourselves. Is it really news that people rushed to aid others rather than running away? Absolutely not; it's human nature! Is it surprising that we have not de-evolved into a society where it's every person for him/herself? I'm not surprised. And I bet people weren't "cowering in fear" all day Friday when the authorities ordered the city of Boston shut down. It was a wise thing to do from a public safety standpoint; the fewer vehicles out on the road in the event of a high speed chase, the better. Law enforcement did their job, and it is one of the toughest jobs in the world. I understand their elation at having brought an end to this drama, but it was not exactly an occasion for cheers and high fives. Save that for when the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.

My point, and I do have one, is this: Why, when people are hurt and a threat by "terrorists" to our security is perceived, does it result in such drama, but when injury is perpetrated on our home, our habitat, our environment, in the name of profit for a few, do we turn away, or justify it, or maybe take a little feel good, symbolic action? This happens every day, and our society has marginalized those who can see the damage as "environmental wackos". This planet is our one and only chance to prove we can sustain ourselves; we ain't going to start a colony on Mars to save the damage we've caused here. It's a grand experiment, and so far it's been bought out by short sightedness and greed. We can do better. Maybe.

I for one could do with a little less global warming. These April blizzards and historic floods are really getting to me.


Rabbi Gershom said...

We got buried here outside of Sandstone, too -- not sure exactly how much since it drifted all over, but at least a foot of more. You can see pix on my blog from Friday. I later found out that a big tree fell down by the chicken coop -- luckily it did not hit the building.

Today a group called Interfaith Power and Light is having a national preach-in on global warming, and will be lobbying at the State Capitol tomorrow as part of Earth Day. I really do hope people wake up to the fact that climate change is real.

As for me, I was supposed to be out with our Cub Scout pack doing spring cleanup at the Audubon Center today -- we were going to pick up sticks and rake around the buildings as our Earth Day community service project. Needless to say, that got canceled.

RE: the Boston bombing coverage, one good thing that came out of it is that they got the perps within 24 hours of releasing the photos. I do agree it was somewhat overkill on constant news, though. This is one thing I love about the Sabbath as we Jews observe it: No TV, no radio, no internet, no tweeting... we shut all that down for 25 hours. This "unplugging" lets us get back to reality once a week. I spent Saturday reading a book.

Stay warm & be well!

Deb said...

Rabbi- So nice to see the efforts of Interfaith Power and Light. And I think we all could benefit from a news Sabbath. Around here I try to keep Sundays for doing meaningful things around the house, like baking bread.

Denise said...

Another odd thing I've noticed is that local weather forecasters, and even more so the Weather Channel on cable, get so excited about reporting bad weather. Positively giddy. Yet they never report on the cause of the floods,snowstorms,tornadoes, droughts...that are occurring with increasing frequency. As long a climate change is a ratings booster for them they seem to be all for it.

YonassanGershom said...

I've heard climate change discussed on CBS (channel 5 ) but NEVER on Fox. A lot depends on who owns the station. A while back Paul Douglas got fired by WCCO because he believed in climate change. So he went on to found the WeatherNation channel. I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but there has been a concerted effort on the part of right-wingers & Big Oil & Coal to mislead the public -- watch this Frontline documentary called Climate of Doubt for more on that. The same page has a lot of good links to interviews, transcripts, ans other materials, too.

Tara said...

Great post. Nice writing, and important thoughts to be getting out there.