We Certainly Don't Bear Coal Miners Ill Will - We Just Want to Protect Our Land & Water: Wendell Berry

By now you've hopefully heard how activists in Kentucky occupied the governor's office over the weekend, trying to get Governor Beshear to talk with them and hear their concerns about mountaintop removal coal mining. Among those present was eminent farmer/writer/eco-philosopher Wendell Berry. Afterwards Berry made a statement, which Kentucky Rising picked up. Here's an excerpt:

A little to our surprise, the Governor spoke with us at some length yesterday, and listened evidently with care as our people bore witness to the abuses they live with every day.  He conceded graciously to two of our requests: that he would visit the home places of some of our people to see for himself what they are telling him about.  The conversation otherwise was a standoff.  We are far from agreement on most of our agenda of grievances.  But we feel that the conversation was useful because it made our differences utterly clear.  The Governor conceded our right to our opinions, but he believes that our accusations against the coal industry and its allies in state government are matters merely of opinion and personal feeling, without standing in fact, in law, or in principle.  He believes, moreover, that surface mining can be, and apparently that it is, carried on without damage to the land, the people, and the water supply.

We, of course, respectfully disagree.

Berry went on to say that the protestors don't bear any personal ill will to those who work in mining--something which a commenter picked up upon as a facet of this debate which can't be emphasized enough, and rightly so.

That really goes on beyond the issue of mountaintop removal mining towards all polluting industries which we in the environmental movement wish to see changed or eliminated.

As Berry says, "Our purpose is to protect our land and water."

I'd go a bit beyond that in my purpose: Towards greater social justice, personal and cultural transformation, as well as protecting other species, but underneath all that is a foundation of compassion. And compassion demands that you extend that feeling even towards people who may oppose you.

Read more: Kentucky Rising
More on Mountaintop Removal Mining:
Scientists Say Mountaintop Removal Mining Should Be Banned - No Remediation Ever Enough
EPA Halts Largest Mountaintop Removal Coal Mine in West Virginia

Tags: Activism | Coal