I was planning on taking some time off from writing, but I got attacked by a tornado. I kid you not. Yesterday, on my first day back at work in my private practice, a tornado’s center came down the street two blocks over from where I work. In my office, I saw bits of tree fly by (my office faces away from the street) . As I stepped out onto the street a bit later, to my left I saw this:
and to my right I saw this:
All of this took place in Springfield, Massachusetts yesterday. When was the last time Springfield had a tornado? Never. Springfield is about 1500 miles east of “tornado alley” if i remember correctly. My housemate said last night, “Not to downgrade your experience, but have you seen the pictures from Joplin? It looks like just a bunch of sticks”.
We have gone from a brutal summer — incredible heat — to an even more brutal winter — the worst in a very long time to unusually high temps in the last few days to… tornadoes. What the heck is going on??!!
We know what the heck is going on. We have messed with the environment too much and it is fighting back. It’s as simple as that. In today’s newspaper this morning, there was an article that says “environmental security found lax at Nuclear Plant”. The article goes on to talk about the plant in Japan and how engineers didn’t take the threat of earthquakes or tsunamis seriously enough. Ya think?
My wife is far more knowledgeable about the environment and climate change– she’s one of those people trained by Al Gore and she gives presentations on this stuff. People stuff is more my thing. Remember when Hummers were all the rage and Detroit kept putting out bigger and bigger vehicles? I — and nearly everybody thought that was just stupid for the environment and unnecessary in any city. Potholes would have to be craters for those things to be needed. We all knew this, but it was our way to thumb our nose at reality because we didn’t want to be told what we could and couldn’t buy. Compare John Prine’s song “Paradise” which talks of devastating strip mining “”where Paradise lay… Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away” and James Watt — who headed the Interior Department under Ronald Reagan who said something like “It doesn’t matter if bulldoze forests, the world’s going to end soon anyway”. My point is that we know what we should do, but we thumb our noses at it like we’re running things. Yesterday’s tornado confirmed what I already knew: we’re not. The more stupid stuff we do, the more deadly things we’re going to see. The planet is kicking us off.
How and why? “Natural events” seems to be how and why is because the planet that’s bigger than all of us wants to survive. Rather like an old Star Trek episode, we think of ourselves as “life” while a bigger context reveals us to be an invading body like a bad cold or at least a foreign body.in a much larger larger system. When that body poses a problem to the larger body, the larger one fights it off and gets rid of it.
Years ago, this was called the Gaia hypothesis, “Gaia” being the Goddess of the Earth or what we would call “Mother Nature”, the premise was “what if the earth can be seen as a system with it’s own way of finding balance — a balance we disrupt with our actions? Mother Earth will get mad.”Rush Limbaugh scorns the Gaia hypothesis because he sees it as related to Goddess worship and radical feminism and whiny liberals. Rush, for years, didn’t believe in “Global Warming” aka “Climate Change”, either. While I don’t worship the planet as Goddess, my friend Cathi — a Pagan — does. Even if Rush is right about Cathi (she IS a feminist AND a liberal — oooo, scary!), he might be wrong about the Hypothesis.
As a Christian, I don’t worship the earth, but I try to respect it. Biblically, we are told we have “dominion over” it. As my friend Charlie Crook ( a fairly conservative baptist, said years ago, “That doesn’t mean we get to do anything we want. A King or Queen doesn’t get to kill the people under them. That’s bad dominion”.
As a systems therapist, as I wrote in my book, “All systems do 3 basic things: 1) Take things in 2) Use the good stuff and 3) “rid of the bad stuff”. If Earth is a system, it takes in light and water and gives off carbon dioxide and — us?
Just because God created the Earth, doesn’t mean it’s not alive. God creates all kinds of life, as we in the Judeo-Christian tradition already know. And if it’s alive, we better behave. We know what we need to do and what we shouldn’t. Let’s start acting on the good.