Monthly Archives: May 2010

Our Beautiful Mississippi

The poor brown pelicans can’t fly away from the oil slick. Commentators say that what Katrina didn’t destroy (of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities), this latest disaster may. Those are fragile ecosystems but many people and animals call them their home.

In a larger philosophical sense, this is the story of our society. The oil invading the marshes is a big, visible, localized disaster. There are smaller incidents all over this mation, destroying little ecosystems and communities.

I think of our beautiful Mississippi River and all the rivers, steams, and creeks in northern Minnesota that feed into it. There is oil in the Bungashing Creek. Someone was crushing cars without removing the fluids. The same townboard that fought this small operator and paid out tons of money in legal fees, granted permission to a pipeline to establish a pipe yard right across from our driveway. The neighborhood fought it and prevailed, but then there was the devil to pay. And to what end? We now live a half mile from that new pipeline carrying tar sands from Canada, and the difluent is benzene. The elders on the Reservation which the pipeline crosses have dreamed of a conflagration. Environmentalists say it’s not a matter of whether there will be an accident, but when and where and how big. This pipeline goes under the Mississippi and other rivers that supply millions of people with drinking water.

So much for the Let’s Make It A Clean Connection, the motto of the sister agreement between Bemidji and New Orleans, the first and last cities on the Mississippi. If something happens on this end, the entire river will be destroyed.

I think of the words we hear in church on Good Friday. “Forgive them, they know not what they do”. If it were a matter of not knowing, yes, I could forgive. But they know exactly what they are doing and they just don’t care.

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