Monday, March 22, 2010

Affliction to Others, Affliction to Self

I am a full moon cycle behind on the study part of the Integrated Study Practice Program unit on Wisdom.  But that's ok.  I am in Mossville, LA this week, with 8 grad students from Sarah Lawrence College Graduate Health Advocacy Program, and right intention (for the full moon period that began  Feb. 28) seems particularly important.

We are here to assist Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN) assess the health care needs of a community made very ill by the toxins spewing from the stacks and "accidental" releases of the 40+ refineries and chemical processing plants within their parish (county).  Thirteen of these plants are within a 1/2 mile of Mossville.  CONOCO, the largest, is right in their backyard, the dangerous and irresponsible neighbor unresponsive to the demands of common decency not to mention justice.

I've written about MEAN before.  You can read about their situation in their own words as well.  But this morning as the sun is just coming up over the bayous and smoke stacks of southwest Louisiana I am conscious of the affliction everyone suffers down here, whether one is an environmentalist or not, whether one is black, white or brown, regardless of income, despite denial and evasion.  The air (and probably the water) and soil are killing people. 

Even though I live in a state and a region where I don't feel the air stinging my eyes, burning my throat, calling up all kinds of alarm in my immune system; even though I get to leave here at the end of the week, this affliction is my permanent affliction as well.  And yours.  Right intention for now is to know the affliction of others is affliction of self.  Engaging in wholesome actions that limit or relieve that affliction -- seeking environmental justice, working compassionately for change -- will yield results that benefit all of us.  If not in our lifetime then in the lives of our children.

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