resistance

what are your gifts?

Avatar Blues

“James Cameron’s completely immersive spectacle ‘Avatar’ may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.”

This scared the bajeezus out of me. Civilization has wrought so much damage upon the land that the beauty and luscious ecosystems in which humans once lived are dwindling on the edge of existence, and now movies like Avatar simply make people depressed instead of inspiring them to take action to save our own beautiful planet.

I know that here, Coast Salish territory in northwestern Washington State, there used to be mossy old-growth forests with sitka spruce trees that towered above everything. The salmon runs that came through the rivers were so large that people were afraid their boats would capsize, so large that you could hear them coming before you could see them. All one had to do to get enough fresh salmon for months would be to dip a basket in the river. This place was a paradise, but almost no one knows because of how decimated the land has become. The same is true of the east coast–there used to be flocks of passenger pigeons so large that they would darken the sky for days at a time, so large that you could shoot one shot from an old muzzle loader and bring down a dozen birds. The bison are gone, the prairie lands are gone. The rainforest is being destroyed.

I grew up in a rural area just west of Olympia, Washington on a small hill that overlooked a beautiful meadow. On the other side of the meadow was another hill covered in thick evergreen and deciduous trees which, in the fall, would capture my attention with how gorgeous the vibrant colors were. Also, there was a community of elk who lived in the area. I would get so excited when I saw an elk poke their head out of the trees on the far side of the meadow, followed by another, then another, then three more, and more, until the entire herd was out grazing and frolicking in the grass. One of the memories that will stick with me forever is from a morning when my mother took my sister and I outside on a particularly foggy day, not to watch the elk, but to listen to them. They would call to each other in the fog, making noises that reminded me of whale song. It was one of the most eerie and magical experiences of my life.

Later, some people bought the meadow and pulled in a mobile home. It didn’t take long for the land to become filled with garbage and rusting cars. They were “horse people” who bought and sold race horses. I never again saw the elk. The people also wanted to log the hillside and sell the timber. I was devastated. First the elk, now this?

It was obvious to me then that I was living in two different worlds. It is obvious to me now that I have to pick a side, because those worlds are not compatible. I have chosen the side of the real physical world. The earth is dying–no, the earth is being killed. The institutions that are perpetrating the mass annihilation of ecosystems worldwide must be stopped if future generations are going to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

It’s time to fight back.

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