02 December 2011

Walk the Walk

I found myself deeply disturbed by today's report in the Times about energy's companies strategies to buy the rights to drill on private land.  Both the greed and duplicitousness of the energy companies and the naivete and desperateness of the landowners looking to make a quick buck.

If you haven't read it, it's worth your time.  There's plot, intrigue, character development, betrayal--all the elements are there for a good story.  And, of course, with contaminated drinking water, there's tragedy as well.

It was a good week for the story to appear, what with New York State hearing testimony about Fracking, one of the processes by which natural gas is extracted from the earth.  This week a new Jewish website even appeared, called, fortuitously, Jews Against Hydrofracking, which answers most questions you'll want to know except one:  how come Jewish dudes *without* beards aren't on the front lines of this battle?

All kidding aside, I'm generally sympathetic to these Jews who are waging this righteous battle against the despoliation of the earth and I was slated to offer a blessing or two at its rally the other day but an emergency came up, necessitating that I submit my testimony in writing to New York State, which I'll do later next week.

Still, while downtown earlier this week on the morning of the hearings, I came upon a group of young men heading toward the hearings and leading their own chant, a variation of a lyric I knew from a riff on a Rockmaster Scott song that I once heard Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers perform at a great show in 1990, "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!  We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn!"  These guys, who I think were making their west from Zuccotti Park, could have just as easily been dressed for an audition at the Ace Hotel Stumptown Coffee--I mean, these protestors were HIP!  I couldn't figure out what was going on.

"The water, the water, the water's on fire!  We don't need no fracking let the corporations burn!"  Bearded, hipster, anarchist, environmental barristas!  Viva la yo!

The humor I enjoyed; the violent conflagrations I could do without.  After all, corporations made the nifty hats they were wearing; the poster board for the signs they were carrying; even the laces on their marching boots.

But people are mad these days--all around.  Right, Center, Left.  Everyone's mad.

Hosea is particularly helpful here.  The prophet's words, chosen for this week's Haftarah (Hosea 12.13-14.10) describes the bitterness and backward ways of the idolatry in the land; but while the God of the Hebrew Bible often gets a bad rap for violent and destructive responses to sinful behavior, Hosea is able to channel love and understanding, despite the people's general stupidity.

"Take with you words and return unto the Eternal," says Hosea, which I usually interpret as, "Calm down and learn to express yourself more cogently.  It helps us all to figure out and understand what's bothering you."  And further, the prophet has God saying, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger is turned away from him.  I will be as the dew unto Israel, he shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon."

And further, "Whoso is wise, let him understand these things, whoso is prudent, let him know them.  For the ways of the Eternal are right, and the just do walk in them, but transgressors do stumble therein."

The world's a mess, that's for sure.  But the anger all around is just as much an idol as the greed and golden calves being protested in the streets of our fair cities.

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