I had coffee with Genma Holmes this morning and the whole thing was just like you hope when you meet people–funny, thought-provoking, wide-ranging. But the thing that has stuck in my brain all morning is that, when we briefly talked about our state’s abysmal infant mortality rate (a topic near and dear to both of our hearts), she mentioned that all the education in the world, all the taking women to doctors, and making sure we eat right doesn’t do much if women can’t be pregnant and give birth in communities that aren’t filled with things that poison us.
It struck a chord with me because I had been thinking about what Woods quoted Wamp as saying the other day.
“Listen, if the snail darter or whatever gets in the way of our state moving forward at a time like this when people are hurting, then it’s going to be really a crying shame.”
Because, I wonder, just how does Wamp think that the snail darter or whatever is standing in the way? Does he think that corporations are all “Well, in order to keep our employees happy, every day at noon, we propose they all go out and stomp on snail darters.”? (Though, if you do plan on stomping a snail darter, please watch for slippery rocks.) Yes, sometimes it’s a matter of altering the landscape in such a way that habitat is lost.
But more often, when we lose species to corporations, we lose them to corporations who are poisoning them. And this is a concern for us, not because we’re all commie hippy softies about ugly fish, but because what can kill a fish can, in high enough concentrations, kill us.
I appreciate and have come to dearly love the “Whatever you throw at us, fuck you, we can take it” attitude of the people of Tennessee. But there comes a point when we have to ask ourselves, even if we’re tough enough to withstand being poisoned or losing our homes to negligent power companies or getting by on scraps, why should we?