If Earth is our “Home,” it too has closets, those dark, earnest places where we tuck things away, treasures and trinkets and all sorts of things. Things we have in excess and things we can’t yet use. Things that are exhausted and things that need to ripen. Things that clasp our memories and things that await their day. Things we love and things we fear.
We keep them, guard them, have a hard time parting with them for they are part of us. They are our passions, our feelings, our ideas and our dreams caught willy-nilly in the amber that oozes from our lives.
Closets are acts in three tenses – past, present and future—with long intermissions. They encompass the ones who chose to save, the ones who guard the treasures and the ones who will remember and redeem them.
Which, it seems to me, explains why mountaintop removal is, for so many of us, so heinous and odious.
If each generation is the heir to all prior generations, then we are the inheritors, the stewards, of Earth’s precious estate, charged, among other things, with being “the keepers of the closets.” Mountaintop removal is nothing less than a brigand’s assault on our Home, our heritage and our trust.
Mountaintop removal ransacks our wardrobes, bulldozes the past that was stored up for us for more discriminate use. It removes all distinction of sacred and profane, open and closed, space; flattens all time to the urgent, insistent “now”; violates the attribute of having without using, of saving for the next generation.
Mountaintop removal doesn’t just make a mess, spilling out the densely packed guts of Earth’s closets, staining and destroying the rooms where we live. It raids and robs our children of their portion of Earth’s estate. Mountaintop removal implicates us all in ransacking and consuming those things we were entrusted to protect.
Judaism’s trope of M’dor l’dor, from generation to generation, is a call for us to remember the gifts of our parents, and for us to hand to our children a world that is full of promise: better, richer, and healthier than the one we inherited.
It is a calling we cannot neglect.
(Photo courtesy of Ohio Citizen Action)