The horrible human-made disaster unfolding in slow motion in the Gulf of Mexico is, first of all, a direct result of economic and political aggression by a small number of people against the earth and against most of us who live on the earth. We live in a culture whose leaders encourage, as a central “moral” value of the culture, the notion that if you have a problem or want something, the best way to deal with it is to grab the biggest gun you can find and walk in shooting. (Or, in this case, drilling.)
There is a direct connection between the placid faces and the leather chairs and the carafes of water in the boardroom of (name any large corporation), and the workers who died in the oil rig explosion, and the dying pelicans on the barrier islands, and the people stranded on roofs during the flood of New Orleans, and the automated drone aircraft that fire weapons of mass destruction at whoever some surveillance photograph has tagged as a “terrorist.”
Facing these stark realities are the potential and real awareness that we share – those of us who make up the majority of the people in the world, who live and work still (at least partly) in touch with the living earth, with the light and shadows of each day, with each other – an awareness that we, and the earth we live on, are not products to be bought and sold, are not figures on a balance sheet, are not someone’s private property. That we are here in our own right, that we are essential and self-evident, that we are our only chance.
In the torrent of anti-reality, anti-language, anti-truth that blares through the atmosphere and fiberoptics on a daily and hourly and minute-by-minute basis, it can be difficult to find the capacity to express what we perceive going on around us, to speak truth as we understand it, to find and know each other in spite of everything. It can be difficult, wearying, exhausting. We may not always succeed.
But I believe we have to try.
Lyle Daggett’s books of poems include The First Light Touches Me (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Idea of Legacy (Musical Comedy Editions). His poems, translations, essays and book reviews have appeared in Pemmican, Blue Collar Holler, Main Street Rag; the anthology Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath; and other publications. His weblog is A Burning Patience, http://aburningpatience.blogspot.com. He has not received a grant or award. He lives in Minneapolis.