Voice of the Mountain
by Shawn K. Inlow
A few months ago, I was operating in my own little world when I got a call from my friend Mario. Mario lives in Boston. He calls me sometimes on his commute. Mario started me on this path, writing for you. He chose the name of this blog from some ideas I had. Mario wants me to write. He's a friend.
The next day, a madman got loose in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Mountain has been quiet for a time. I need to explain. As you, dear reader, have seen, I embarked on a prolonged creative outburst. The fact of my retirement from the work world has coincided with a good friend telling me to write something and I have begun to think, to explode, to cry out, talk, share and be honest as much as I can from the top of this mountain howling down into the valleys below.
I have become very busy. I have been doing a lot of research and reporting on a local landfill issue where I live and I have held the stories I've written. More on this below, although not quite the final stories I intend to write on the issue.
I have warned you that I'd try to do some music for you. For the past month or so, I've been working with a few musicians toward that end. The songs we are producing may or may not be very good, but they are taking shape and it is a time consuming process writing music. I'll be posting those songs here on The Voice of the Mountain for you and you can inform as to whether I should stop singing.
I write songs. Lots and lots of them. But I haven't the training to single handedly produce them. I love music but am a musical illiterate. I'm a blind person leading you down a path. I am deaf and shouting. Some of the best musicians in the world didn't know how to write music, I'm told. So I'm testing that assertion.
There is courage and fear and trust in making music, a language anyone can speak and have access to. To make music, one must be able to be defenseless. You have to open your heart and open your mouth and dream aloud. One needs to destroy the barriers we so carefully construct in our lives and come down from the parapets into the open. Most people are too careful or too risk averse to let go in such a way, to be free.
So, over the last month, I've been working on music. Someone more accomplished would have something to show for his efforts by now. I am not accomplished. Yet.
So I've been busy doing other creative things besides blogging.
By way of another excuse, I will mention that March is the worst of all months for me because planning for the upcoming soccer seasons takes all my time. I am a registrar for a local football club and I'm busy helping to arrange for the spring seasons for hundreds of young association footballers. The one thing I know I am is a soccer coach. My game, the game I love, I spread like a happy Johnny Appleseed, planting sprouts and watching them grow.
And March sucks because I can't just have a game with our friends down the road. We must get permission from someone in Pittsburgh to do that. Or someone in California. So tied has our society become to the idea of liability that I find myself collecting photographs and birth certificates of children to prove to someone in Pittsburgh who answers to an actuary somewhere that we are working within the requirements of the insurance industry so that we can play a game with our friends from a few miles down the road.
I call this the liability problem. Back in the 1970s, all the parks around my home town of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, closed. Someone came up with the brilliant idea that when a child falls off a swing, then somebody is liable.
I challenge the core assertion. A child is liable to fling himself off the swing at the apex of its glorious arc. But the insurance industry has imposed itself in the form of the invisible profit making straw-man that is liability. It is a giant squid on the face of society deep throating us with its tentacle of fear.
In our local soccer association, nobody can ever remember filing a claim against our liability. This goes back decades. Yet it is the primary cost of our local soccer associations and it is something WE DON"T NEED or use. And it is the primary complicator and regulator of our lives. If your child wants to play a sport, we have to know just how old your child is and you better not lie about it, so cough up your goddam birth certificate and pay the insurance premium.
Pa. West Soccer, I'm talkin' to you. All you are is an insurance racket.
ON THE LANDFILL
I want to talk about this land use issue once more. I have been examining this local political issue and what I've learned is you don't wanna stand between a rich man and a pot of gold. That's what it comes down to.
I would rather be a Christian on the floor of the Roman Coliseum.
I went to a local meeting where everyone there was talking to the State Department of Environmental Protection board about whether they were for or against it. Hundreds were against it. A few guys who probably stand to gain money from it were for it. There was an engineer who was paid to be for it. Yeah, that counts. Everyone else was just a neighbor who was watching the value of their homes and life savings evaporate.
The post I made after that was honest and frank. I posited that the people who had the most to do with advancing this landfill that nobody wants consisted of some local money and a very few local politicians who are the stooges for the big money project. You know who you are and you have to decide honestly if you are really serving the people who voted for you. Who IS your boss anyway?
But I posted my very honest feelings of how I saw the problem. I'm sure some facets of my budding understanding of the issue showed through. I'm sure some of my guesswork was inaccurate. But, on the whole, I think I was as close to being honest as I could. But I was stunned that nobody would call a spade a spade on this issue when everyone knows the truth. Everyone knows who Voldemort is.
Got some attention. Made me very unhappy. Saying true things is great for polishing your integrity but it will make you unhappy in this world. Far better to be a coward and go along to get along and be quiet and sit in the corner and don't make waves and just eat your shit sandwich. After I posted that little bit of opinion, people quietly approached me and said things like, "You'd better be careful."
So money can do that. Money can make everyone cower down and be afraid.
But you know what? It's these few people who are pursuing their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness at the expense of everyone else's. In America, you are free to pursue whatever game you want as long as you're not hurting anyone else. And those people who are supporting this landfill are stepping on the freedoms of others. You are hurting others, and we've not been put on this planet for that purpose.
But if that's who you wanna be, then I think you suck and you are a lousy, lousy neighbor.
If those people who think building a landfill in the heart of the commonwealth so that people from New York and Philadelphia can take a shit and dump it on our heads is a good idea, I suggest they can tip this project in one of a couple ways.
One way is they can just stop doing harm to the environment here. Just quit damaging things. Stop your project.
The second way is to make it worth everyone's while. See, I keep hearing how this landfill is going to be this glorious bonanza of financial benefit. Yeah. For a few people it will be. Whoever winds up actually developing and owning the project is going to be in for, idunno, half a billion dollars or more? But everyone else is going to suffer.
People will get sick. The environment will degrade. Homes will devalue. I don't know about anyone else, but everything I've ever made in my life is wrapped up in my little house here in Osceola Mills getting less valuable by the day. Since we already have nothing here in Osceola Mills, I'd at least like it to be nothing minus the environmental hazards left from the ruined skeletons of mining and gas extraction and sewage sludge dumping and the burning of fossil fuels.
Yeah, Shawville is gonna close. Well boo-hoo. Because it was one of the filthiest polluters east of the Mississippi and the energy sector doesn't have to think about how many people have gotten sick and died of exposure to the burning of coal.
Yeah. Let's have a war on coal. It's about high goddam time. Because The Mountain we all live on here is just one giant bony pile and everything is poisonous. The kids all have cancer and asthma and neurological disorders and it ain't from the clean environment. The fish are full of mercury from coal.
We were talking about making the landfill into a good idea. Let's really make the landfill something that really does benefit our communities. I propose a socialist solution.
Turn it over to the county. Clearfield County should own and run the dump and all the profits from it should go toward making life better in Clearfield County communities. If we're gonna have a landfill, how about everyone's taxes going down. AND, as a good faith gesture, those folks who are living next to the dump should be offered fair market value for their land and the dump should subsidize their moving to a new location not affected by the associated truck traffic, airborn pathogens, traffic accidents, stink and environmental degradation.
That way everybody wins, right? All you gotta do is buy off everybody.
If I had that much money, I'd do it. I'd set it up as a county run program that truly would benefit everyone in a real way. And all those people who currently oppose the project would think well of me for it. And instead of being afraid of me they might build a nice statue of me in front of the beautiful new Shawn K. Inlow Elementary School.
So what's it gonna be, Voldemort? One could arguably do some good in the community with this project. But you could also do an immense amount of good in this community with this project. The only thing that stands in the way is avarice.
Shawn K. Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.