From Coal Miners to Grandmothers, Sending Our Thanks

BY ON November 19, 2018

child with her grandmother on thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week. A good time to reflect on all that’s amazing about the world around us — and to think about so many of the things for which we should be grateful.

Thank the young people: Last week we saw numbers of passionate people gather in Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand a Green New Deal — putting climate peril right to the top of her priorities. We can argue about what should and shouldn’t be part of that policy. But at this urgent stage of an exploding climate crisis all over the world, I’m cheering on every shade of green there is — and every kind of civic engagement we can possibly dream up. We will not get policies that lead us to climate safety without demanding them — loudly.

Thank the coal miner: Our lives today, our entire way of being, would not have been possible without the generations of miners — and for that matter, workers on oil rigs — who risk life and health to bring us an abundant supply of cheap energy. Today, that coal miner is being exploited by coal barons who don’t care about the health of their workers. The horrific, and incurable, black lung disease is on the rise. Streams are again being freely polluted with waste waters full of chemicals. The Trump administration has relaxed rules that protect land, water, and people. Is that any way to show gratitude?

Thank the solar workers: Remarkable human beings figured out that minerals like aluminum, nickel, silica, silver, tin, and zinc, among others, could be combined to harness the sun’s energy — and invented solar panels. Remarkable humans also work with lithium, manganese, nickel and graphite, among others, to store that energy — and invented batteries. And remarkable humans express concern and create protections for the safety of the humans who are mining these minerals, and the quality of the land in which we find them.

Thank the scientists: It is hard to believe that in modern America, climate scientists have to fear for their lives and the safety of their families. But that’s the result of the ruthless, raging disinformation campaign that’s been funded by the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil executives.

Thank the voters: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for showing up at the polls — no matter which way you voted. Thank you, because around the world, people are literally dying for the right to vote. And here, we have taken it for granted for far too long.

Thank the grandmothers: No one understands legacy like a grandmother gazing on the face of a grandchild for the first few seconds of his or her life. Instantly it is clear: at this stage of our lives we must be thinking about the world we will be leaving behind for these beloveds. Will we bequeath to them the bountiful blessings we were handed? Will we leave them with a sense of respect and honor for all those who strive to make the world a better place, whether through invention, engineering, conserving, teaching, or healing? Grandfathers, too — of course. But really, there’s nothing like a full-body memory of the labor we went through to bring someone into this world. Except, perhaps, the labor it takes to preserve and enhance this world.

And last, thank the endlessness of such lists. The fact is, in a world of woe, there is still much to celebrate, to honor, to respect, to support, and to cheer. 

With special thanks to all of you for your support and the work you do, Happy Thanksgiving.

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TOPICS: Air Pollution, Children's Health, Climate Change, Coal, Motherhood, Renewable Energy, Science, Social Justice