[Reprinted from Immerse Blog]
I’m cooking potatoes over a black iron pan on a Saturday morning in August 2010. In the background are the sounds of National Public Radio—sounds that include voices, ocean water, and feet trudging through wet and sticky earth. It has been four months since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The voices are from people working the coast of Louisiana, trying to clean up the sludge. They describe dead fish, dead birds, shellfish, and plants suffocated in black muck. There is despair in many of the voices. One woman begins to cry as she talks about the decades it will take for the coastal ecosystem to recover. “It seems hopeless,” she says.
The Saturday paper is spread on the kitchen counter and my two teenage sons sit waiting for their breakfast. Noah, my eldest, begins to read out loud, “Six children, aged 6 to 12, were killed in an airstrike by an Apache helicopter.” There is a pause, and then Noah reads another line. “They were collecting wood for their families.” [This past week an independent human rights group produced a report that an average of two Afghan children were killed by U.S. forces each day of 2010.]
Noah pushes the paper away. I put eggs and potatoes on plates and take down glasses for orange juice. “Can you turn the radio off?” My son Joseph interjects in a voice that feels tired and fragile. I unplug the radio. Joseph shakes his head. “I can’t listen to all that right now. It’s too depressing.” Continue reading