Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The stinky stuff

I love this picture: loved seeing it, loved shooting it, love the old-timey feel of it.  But the truth of the matter is that the lovely plume of smoke in the center is a paper mill, and, in the way of such things, stinks to high heaven.

Does that make this image less appealing? Yes, kind of -- unless we can do that willful suspension of disbelief thing and allow it to just be a mysterious plume of smoke.

And that's the problem with life, isn't it?  Things are never quite what they seem, and often the stuff that brings color and beauty into the world is the very stuff that pollutes it -- just as the things which cause trouble in our lives are the very things that help us grow into exciting and rewarding new spaces.

As a friend reminded me in a note just this morning, not one of us is truly bad or truly good; not one of us is wholly innocent or wholly defiled.  The liberals can not denigrate the Tea Party for attacking and disrespecting Obama without also accepting blame for having attacked and disrespected Bush.  Each of us is liable and accountable for our own biases and imperfections; let she who is without sin cast the first stone.

Which doesn't necessarily make it okay to sit idly by when you see someone -- anyone -- attacking or disrespecting another human, another faith, another way of life.  It's good to speak up.  The question is -- can you do it without judgment, without self-righteousness?  Can you speak out of love without sounding holier-than-thou? Can it be a reasoned -- if impassioned -- discourse, or must any such confrontation degenerate into a ruthless severing of relationship?  How do we protect our boundaries and champion our beliefs and yet remain open and accommodating?  How do we declare that something is not-okay and not-me and still retain a sense of oneness with the universe?

It's a conundrum, to be sure.  And yet... those sticky places of our lives -- however frustrating or irritating, or just plain stinky they may prove to be -- so often contain extraordinary gifts...

(PS: With thanks to Maureen of Writing Without Paper: to  see more images of the beauty in pollution, click here and visit the work of J. Henry Fair.)

1 comment:

Maureen said...

To all the questions you ask, I can only respond, I hope we can get to that place and I think it's possible if not easy.

Did you see the images of J Henry Fair I referenced in my All Art Friday? Astonishing beautiful and absolutely deadly.