Was bothered today. If you’ve been following the news about the men trapped in Utah in the mine, you may have heard this, too. It’s a tragic story, and a story of heroes who won’t give up searching, and families torn apart, distanced by the power of a mountain. But that’s not why I’m disturbed. I’m disturbed because of the focus on 6 miners. Don’t get me wrong, every life matters. And that’s the issue. Too often the way we do news in the US has more to do with drama and melodrama than it does with real care for the loss of life. Seriously… do we really care that much about those 6 miners and their families, or are most people just addicted to the melodrama, the tension, and awaiting resolution to the climax of a dramatic story? If we cared so much about each individual person, created in the image of God, each unique, each whose life - when held in the balance - was precious… then wouldn’t we care about all people who would lose their lives in the coal industry? Or do we just care about those who are a part of a good, hollywood type story? Sorry to be a cynic, but let the statistics speak for themselves. In 2004, 6027 people died in China due to coal mining related incidents, as compared to 28 in the US in the same year.
This reminds me of so many things: how crazy we get over school shootings that make us feel like we’re reliving a movie written by Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers) and how we dismiss each year and never much report the many kids who die each year in the inner city from the same type of guns. So, what gives? Have we become victions of drama consumption rather than those whose hearts break over every life lost? Are we (subtly) racists who don’t really care about the Chinese miners, the children in Darfur, or the children of our own American cities? What about the silent runaway girls who are sexually exploited around the world and discarded socially even before they lose their bodies, dignity, minds, and lives? Am I just cranky, or is this our own personal hypocrisy?
FYI… Coal provides 25% of global primary energy needs and 40% of the world’s electricity. And suprising to me, the US is not in the top consumers of coal, but is the 2nd largest in mining. And supposedly coal has about 155 years left to be mined… although that’s at the current rate, which last year increased over the previous year by 7.4%. That’s quite a few years compared to oil and gas, which looks like 40 to 65 years left. Don’t get me started on strip-mining in Appalachia and a) the loss of entire mountains and b) the polution of the water of our own appalachian poor. Again… a subtle classism - which is often akin to racism. If you’re not a suburban American…
Well, I’m ranting, and I’m a part of the problem not the solution. Or as Coldplay says, “…am I part of the cure, or am I part of the disease?”
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