Not that long ago, I got a fortune in a fortune-cookie that I have kept with me.

You are a deep thinker with a knack for problem solving.

I am not so sure about the “deep thinker” part. I would tend to believe I am just like anyone else on the planet. But problem solving? Now we’re talking. I have been working on Information Technology – specifically computer systems of one type or another – since 1986, when I joined the United States Air Force.One of the most important lessons I learned in my early career that it did not matter what something was designed to do, it mattered more what it really could do. During my time in the military, as well as my subsequent career as a computer technician afterwards – I gained a reputation for finding obscure and bizarre solutions to issues. I never made these repairs with the idea of it being a long-term solution. Instead it was meant as a short-term solution to get the people, who were dependent on that particular piece of non-working technology, back to doing their jobs – while I find a long-term, permanent solution to the problem.

The bigger issue, as I have come to eventually see it, is that we human beings have shifted from a culture where we once respected our Earth, and all the animals that inhabit this place with us – to one where we demand that all these aspects bow down to human beings and serve us. We over-hunt animals – sometimes hunting simply because of the way that the action makes us feel, instead of hunting just for whatever is necessary to fill our cooking pots and plates for a few days. We over-farm areas – sometimes planting the same crop over and over and rotating crops back in which utilize a different nutrient from the soil, while helping to replenish the nutrient that was there from the previous crop. Or giving that particular area a full season’s rest with no crops at all. No, we treat the land as a resource to be used – and plant the crops that will pay the highest monetary dividend. But all of that is a matter of education – something we can fix somewhat easier than anything else.

Animas River before the Chemical Spill

Animas River before the Chemical Spill

We dump toxins throughout our environment – chemical waste and sewage. Earlier this year, I visited the southern Colorado region. Had a very powerful experience when I went to Mesa Verde – one that is constantly on my mind. I took a train up to Durango, Colorado – one which rode next to a powerful river – the Animas. Powerful not in terms of the strength of its water flow, but powerful in the many Spirits of the Land that you could literally reach out and easily touch with your senses. A few months after I visited, the river was polluted with heavy metals from a gold mining operation that was next to the river. The issue was treated as an “oops!” moment, glossed over in the press. No mention was made of what has happened further downstream in the New Mexico area, because the Native peoples located there are still treated as “sub-human” in the thoughts of people (not everyone, but you get the general idea).

We have inner-city battles, where people of color are treated as if they don’t matter. It was enough of an issue, that the hashtag #blacklivesmatter was started on social media. Why? To help people understand that the race issues that we supposedly got past in the 1960s – the race issues that were supposedly mollified when a black man was elected President of the United States — those race issues continue with us today. Because we haven’t resolved the issues – we’ve merely placated enough of the anger to treat the issues as an “oops” moment. But a simple hashtag isn’t going to resolve anything – in fact I believe that it hurts matters more. Yes, black lives matter. So do Asian-Pacific, First Nations, Hispanic and Latino, and dare I say – white lives as well. All lives matter – and not just human. ALL LIVES MATTER.

We talk about solving problems such as what has happened in the Animas river earlier this year. We have hurricanes gaining strength out in the oceans – some may come and have come ashore and caused destruction, and killed humans and animals. We have compassion when issues like these happen, and we should do. But when do we have compassion when our neighbor’s dogs get out from the backyard fence and are wandering the busy streets of our neighborhood? I watched that on Monday of this week. I strapped on tennis shoes and herded the two dogs back to their owners’ home, and explained to the owners how the dogs were on this side of the fence with me in their front yard. It was fifteen minutes from the time I saw the dogs slip through the hole in the fence to the time I went out there. I watched car after car narrowly miss these dogs. No one stopped. We talk about solving complex issues like heavy metals in the Animas river, how to feed people that are suddenly homeless and hungry from a natural disaster. We’re ready to battle the complex issues of climate change, and yet we cannot even try and change our own collective societal problem of continuing to identify one another from race and ethnicity. And yes, its a problem — especially when we design hashtags to trumpet how one particular ethnicity seems to be singled out again and again. In reality, even the abusers – in many of these cases white people – are just as much a victim of this ethnic/racial identification as those that they abuse over it.

We are ALL humans. Once we acknowledge that, all the racial/ethnic classifications should be cast aside. But that’s going to take time. That’s going to take education. That’s going to take compassion. And I am not sure that compassion is something our society can handle, while we classify people over other issues. Political perspectives – a classification that gets so venomous, that I can see how the gulags of the Soviet Union came to be. I can understand how many turned a blind eye while the Nazis herded up all the “Undesirables” of society. I have to hold on to hope that neither would be the case in today’s “modern” society.

We have a long, long way to go to resolving many issues. As a Pagan, I take my guidance from the Gods and Goddesses. I’m not here to debate whether what I believe is superior to what someone else believes. I have my own footsteps to walk within. I can only hope others can take their guidance from their own beliefs, walk in the footsteps that they must, and find compassion for their fellow human beings, and the other citizens of this planet as well. Plant, Animal, Insect, etc. I have to hold on to that hope – even if hope is all I have…

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