Sunday, December 16, 2012

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

So I wake up some days - most days, for years now - and something is eating at me.  I can't quite put my finger on it but its big and it matters to all of us and I feel like I'm close to understanding this thing and I need to share it.  I feel anxious.  I feel like I have no control.  I feel like things are wrong.  I'm torn between wanting to murder people and to save them.  Between hating people and loving them.

These are days when I feel most desperate.  As if the wheels are coming off the world.  As if people are too stupid to see what's happening.  As if people blinded by consumption and greed are ruining everything... for everybody... and they don't care because they think they have enough money to survive.

Um.  This is not a global warming blog, though that is on my mind today.  This is a blog about everything.  It's a big picture blog.  It's an understanding all the little things you see and finding a framework where everything fits blog.   It is life as I know it blog.  And I hope to get this shit off my chest and maybe find someone else who understands.  I am an optimist.  Hello.

I am from Central Pennsylvania.  If you draw an "x" on a map of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and then Google-Earth that map and zoom in you will find me standing on top of a mountain in the exact center of the state waving up at you.  I was standing in that precise location waving as the satellite took my picture.  I can drive downhill for three hours to the south-east and get to Philadelphia.  I can drive downhill for three hours to the south-west and get to Pittsburgh.  I can drive downhill three hours to the north west and get to Erie.

When you are down in a valley, you can shout all you want and nobody will hear you or pay any attention to you.  But shout from the top of this mountain, and the sound just carries and carries.  These mountains, my home, the oldest mountains on earth, are something to behold.  When you leave them for a vacation, the best part is returning home.  Nobody thinks anything is here, where I live.  These mountains don't quake.  Hellish storms are broken up by them.  These mountains shelter us and they are kindly and yet we abuse them.

Most of the water here is polluted and it's getting worse as the fracking jackals swarm like locusts here to extract the hydrocarbons that will choke the life out of the planet in one final, dramatic, greed-inspired push toward profit over the common good.  We've seen it all before.  It is our birthright and our death-knell.

European settlers came and cut down every stand of timber that could be found until the mountain looked like some nightmare.  Then they began to dig.  And coal from this mountain fired the industrial revolution until all our streams died and the fish became poisonous to eat and the mountain bled like a dying carcass into the stream that runs red by my house.  It is dead.  Bugs don't even live in this water.  The sky was charred with coal smoke as were the lungs of the miners and the bodies of their children who got sick and died from any number of odd diseases.

If you want to cure cancer.... All the kids here have one form of cancer or another...  you need to stop polluting our world.  No need to thank the very rich men who profited from hundreds of years of primary industry and who will not stop even today when they know their bank accounts swell while the rest of us choke on the excrement of extraction.  Even while the ice caps melt and the American West is on fire and New York City and New Orleans are swallowed by the ocean.

The Mountain is an undeniable fact.  You walk upon it or go around it but you don't exactly notice it.  You draw life from it and at the end you return to it but you give it no respect.

Those big men who run the fossil fuel industry know the truth more than anyone else.  They employ the best scientists in the world to give them the straight dope and to lie to the rest of us.  They know the consequences of their actions.  They just don't care.  Either that, or they are under the delusion that they have enough money to survive the nightmare future they are bequeathing to their own children.

Meanwhile, the tanker OB River Carrier, pictured below from the Ottawa Citizen, made the first ever winter crossing of the arctic, cutting 20 days off the trip from Norway to Japan.  It was smooth sailing all the way.
We need somehow to wean the world from the destructive use of fossil fuels.  These resources are useful in many ways besides energy production and they need to be conserved.  Bill McKibben over at says that if we burn the reserves we currently have in the ground, we're basically dooming the planet for human life.  We all need to wake up.

Thanks for bearing with me today in my first ever blog post.  I'll be back in the coming days with more stuff both delightful and frightening.  I have a treatise about why, every time you look up, you see some evil shit happening on the television.  I also want to tell you before Christmas about a gleefully chilling film from Finland, "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale," that I found on instant play on Netflix.  Maybe I will convince the great young cartoon artist in my house to share a strip with you.

I guess now I push the button up there that says "publish" and we're off to the races.  I suppose there is a chat-back feature if you want to reply to the post.  I hope you do, because discussions are how we move the world forward in a positive way.

Shawn K. Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.


  1. I agree whole heartedly. What a wonderful article. I will be subscribing to your feed today!

  2. Thanks for taking the time. Sometimes I'm not as concise as I need to be. I feel like the blog will be really useful at least to me to ... idunno... communicate.

    I'm planning some posts on film, art, music and some social issues. I have a lot to say about the Karl Rove clip from Fox on election night. That was ... um... weird, and I think I have a take on it that I haven't heard put forward yet.

    Also, tomorrow's post will be on the crazy shit on TV all the time and I have a kind of anthropology based line of reasoning I wanna take. Among other things.

    Thanks for the feedback.


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Doris. I don't know where your note from the other day went. I thought your comment was particularly sound and was going to use it further. Especially the part about being ashamed and wondering whether the human race deserves its fate.

      It says up there that the post was removed by the author, but it wasn't.

      I don't know how that happened.

      Still learning here.

  4. Shawn - well said and thanks for sharing. I agree, and look forward to reading more.

  5. The Top of the Mountain is a great analogy for the Elephant in the Middle of the Room. Its always there, we just try to drive around it, under it, or over top of it without admitting its existence. Keep on writing!

  6. Those are good questions and analogies, Shawn. Keep on writing. And keep your finger on the pulse of these vital issues.
    Looking forward to reading more.

  7. “The future depends on what you do today.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  8. Outstanding! Very much looking forward to more content!

  9. Shawn, thanks for your new blog. How can I respond: Tame your fires.
    That's what I'd like to say to you. You are viscerally connected to the flow of our times, please, be patient, but keep advising us. These are unusual and cruel times, which require unusual measures and wise leaders. Thank you for writing.

  10. Shawn's shouting from the mountaintop. Love it. Great work.

    1. PB

      Thanks for checking in. I'm getting some interesting feedback from some readers via other media and I've got loads of good ideas going forward.

      Thanks to everyone on the PG+ Pirates' Blog (the asylum) for checking in and please feel free to leave your opinions or reactions, be they positive or negative or otherwise.



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