the polar bear and her cub died today.
the ice floe on which they stood
had grown smaller and smaller,
finally giving way under their weight.
with no place left to swim,
they floundered in the icy water for hours
before finally surrendering to the inevitable
sinking to the bottom of the inky blue waters.
but the honors student never heard their plaintiff howls,
or the frantic splashing in the arctic waters
the buds from her ipod firmly planted in each ear
the sound of her chosen music
drowning out even an awareness
of those passing by.
“I need this music,” she said.
“It reminds me of home. It’s comfortable,” she added.
and so the world around her disappeared
into a mélange of self-blinding comfort
as she walked back to her honors dorm
oblivious to passersby
and the wading birds in the nearby pond
to write her paper on global warming
and its causes.
a little chunk of the Amazon rainforest died today.
they say 150 acres disappear each minute
taking with them the animals
who depend on their moist, leafy matrix for life
exotic butterflies, brilliantly plumed macaws, regal jaguars
all enroute to extinction
along with the many plants
holding medical answers
for the desperate illnesses of our planet.
the lungs of our planet gasp for air
while half-built decks in new gated communities
await the shipment of cheap wood
and the obese children
who will live in those "communities "
await their turn in SUVs
clogging drive through windows of fast food restaurants
to consume beef grown on depleted plains
where mighty rainforests once reigned/rained supreme.
but the young man in his sports car
never heard the howl of the wind
across the spoils of the rainforest
as he drove by in his black sports car
oblivious to the world
much less the others on the highway
texting at 70 mph down the expressway.
what ru up 2? he punched in
two fingers grasping the steering wheel
as his car lurched across three lanes of traffic
cutting off the soccer mom in the SUV
who jammed the brakes to avoid an accident
returning home to the new gated community
where a cypress swamp once stood
her BigFat® sated children
oblivious to their danger
slurping the last of their supersized milkshakes
pacified by the DVDs of The Jungle Book
playing on the monitor behind the front seat
the emaciated young child of Darfur finally died today
the vigilant vulture yards away
finally able to feast
on the prize she had awaited so long
young hatchlings on a dusty ledge nearby
awaiting their breakfast -
the vulture had endured a photo session
that would make her famous worldwide
and prove to be the death of her young photographer
who would dare to awaken the world
from its deadly slumber.
the child’s mother long since dead
in the refugee camps
on the border of the religion/oil wars
displaced from their homes by ethnic cleansing,
climate change driven famine
and power hungry would-be warriors
Africa drowning in an incoming tide of arms
bought with oil/blood money.
had she died from AIDS?
by gang rape?
or simply by the violence of starvation?
who knew? who cared?
but the young jock walking across campus
never heard the child’s last rasping for breath
sporting the official corporate logo jersey
of the local college/professional team
oblivious to those
he cut off on the sidewalks
cell phone in hand
the commercials which advised him
“Talk all the time!”
and so he did.
"Not much. Just walking back from class.
Hamburger. I had a hamburger for lunch.
Liquid Cellar at 7.
No, I don’t have any tests, no need to cram, man.
the gurgling sound of death
from a seven year old child weighing 15 pounds
lost in a vapid conversation
to which all around the young man enroute to the gym
were now privy
whether they wanted to be or not.
the poet/prophet rolled up his scroll
his lament from the creator now finished
an angry crowd stared back at him
and they shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
the fragility of their shallow,
comfort-driven, constructed reality
shattered by the harsh light
of the truth of their existence.
he had committed the unforgivable sin
of making them conscious.
his call to repentance
lost in a sea of acontextual accusations
which took the form of hackneyed epithets:
socialist! unpatriotic! burnedouthippie!
his revelation of the true gods we worship -
technology (if we invent it, we must use it - regardless)
and the corporate interests
which always lie behind it
(there is a reason “In God We Trust” is found on our money)
an act of blasphemy.
it is always tempting
to shoot the messenger
to stone the prophets
to avoid their call
to repent, rethink, reconsider our lives -
to pathologize the revelatory voice
as the product of self-delusion
or simply dismiss it
as the product of a generational cleft.
and perhaps all those things are true.
but is it not our very children,
the progeny of the generation which proclaimed
“Tune in, turn on, drop out!”
who are now doing exactly
what we told them to do?
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.