Friday, August 31, 2012

Where I'm From I Hope

     I have wanted to write something about where I’m from and the coal industry for a while. So during a break today from finishing up a short story for release I took the time to do so. I'm not attacking any person by writing this but I would really like to hear from people on what they think about this.
    If you don’t know I’m from a small, what was a coal mining town, in Southwest Virginia called Appalachia. I grew up with talk of coal right there next to talk of faith, fishing, and football.
     If a kid said the word scab they might get slapped by their parent because it was one of the worst things you could let slip from your lips and that leads me to one thing I really don’t understand and that this defense of coal that people seem to be riding right now. I respect the coal miners, I respect relatives that died in mines, I respect the work that my own father did in those mines to support his family, and the work so many others did for generations but these defense of coal campaigns… Don’t people understand these are fostered by the very same coal companies who haven’t cared about the safety or well being of generations of workers and their families? These very same companies who find people who need cash and pay them to attend Coal Support rallies in company supplied t-shirts?
     Every job is honorable to a point to support yourself and your family and is full of admiration but even as a kid I could not understand this obsession with coal. Then it struck me once. It’s because of the suffering. The mining companies had so many generations of workers fucking suffering and dying to feed their families. Coal work where I’m from it like war in a way. People look at the sacrifices made in the work with blinders to the point where war is celebrated and not the scarifies made; so now the industry is celebrated as if it is itself the individual worker.
     I know a lot of people are scared. Hell I’m freaking out daily because I can’t find work, because I can’t get health issues straightened out. I understand. It’s really frightening to not have a job or fear losing one, to be able to take care of your family, but why has this country gone from supporting unions to now supporting companies? Are we so scared that we are blind to what mountain topping and fracking is doing to our lands? Are we so scared that we will embrace the comfortable arms of someone owning our lives?
     People are against Obama for trying to stop some aspects of the coal industry and I see the miner pissing on Obama images all over the place but I ask you instead- Do you want in the opposite support people who want to get rid of a lot of the government regulations and agencies that have keep mining companies from taking advantage of and in fact killing miners as they did in the past with glee?
     But I’m not here to talk about Obama or Romney or who I think is best. I’ve just had this boiling in me for a long time to ask people where I’m from and all over for that matter- Why have we abandoned the individual worker, the united worker, for the company master?
     And all of that leads me to something that people need to embrace or the lands where I’m from will slowly degrade after false hope after false hope, compromise after compromise, to dust that blows away. Places like where I’m from need to move on from coal. Need to move on from the past and reach out to other industries, invest in other industries, embrace the modern world in every way they can, and bring in work and jobs by making it a place of hard working intelligent excepting people. A place that has always been a beacon of the dirt on your hands worker fighting for the day to day lives of their families needs to now become a beacon in other ways.
Or just embrace fear because it’s more comfortable.

Give in to the fright of change.
Hold onto old delusions, philosophies, and prejudices.

Follow like sheep.
But I believe I came from stronger stock than that.


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