April is like high church season for environmentalists and Earth Day on and around the 22nd its culmination. Writing about this year’s Earth Day became tough this week after Monday’s bombing of the Boston Marathon and yesterday’s Senate actions and inaction on gun public safety.
I wanted to reflect and write about the power and the limitation of a movement like Earth Day but instead was being informed about how to construct and detonate a pressure-cooker bomb. Getting a phone call on Monday alerting me to what had happened in Boston brought back many of the same feelings I felt when I first learned about the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma and the 9/11 terror attacks: shock, anger, impotence, sadness...
These were the same feelings I felt when I learned about mass shootings, murder and woundings, the last coming during the December high church season at Sandy Hook Elementary. Again, people wanted change to improve public safety. Alas, shame on our state Senate Republicans for refusing to vote on gun public safety. And shame shame shame on U.S. Senate Republicans for voting against gun public safety.
I wanted this week to write that Earth Day represents people power, people demonstrating how volunteers working together on behalf of the Earth’s health can accomplish a lot. It is serious work but meant to be celebratory. We like to say, “Every day is Earth Day,” and you can really feel the power this time of year.
But it’s hard not to feel like people, ordinary people, aren’t powerful but just victims when something like pressure-cooker bombs explode, kill and maim at the Boston Marathon. That people who join in to write and call to ask for change to gun public safety are no match for the powerful interests of gun manufacturers, Second Amendment zealots and the NRA.
Many people will work together this weekend and on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day. That’s good. My celebration is tempered this year by knowing that our work in the environment has to be looked at in a much wider community safety perspective— and by knowing the limitations of collective action when facing powerful special interests.