Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Open Your Eyes

Published in the South Shore Breaker - September 14, 2016
I was listening to the radio the other day and heard someone from Newfoundland being interviewed. He said something that caught my attention. He never appreciated the beauty of his province until people from away started to visit and tell him how spectacular the scenery was.

I got to thinking. Maybe that applies to people in other places as well. I live in Nova Scotia, but I wasn't born here. I haven't yet got to the point where I take the beauty of Nova Scotia for granted. I don't need someone to visit me and tell me how spectacular it is here. I know.
Does that apply to everyone who lives here? Do our politicians understand what people love about our province?

I suspect that people who add Nova Scotia to their vacation list of places to see, or people who choose to make this province their new home, appreciate the peace and tranquility that come from the natural beauty of the area. The longer I live here, the stronger I believe that the people in charge don't get it. Maybe they haven't been visited by friends from away who tell them how beautiful our resources are. Maybe they have lived here all their lives and they just don't see anymore. 


I can drive down the road with a friend, glance out the car window, and spot a functioning fishing shed in the bay with red rowboat floating nearby. In the background sails a tall ship filled with tourists. Seeing something like that usually ends up with pulling the car over, grabbing the camera, and capturing the moment.

I can also drive down the road and see a seemingly endless stretch of land that has been stripped of it's trees, a waste land denuded of all living things. Whole forests taken down on crown land because the machines that harvest the trees are too big to be selective. Private land desecrated because it's better to get the cash now than leave it for someone else. Agencies that don't enforce laws. Government that abandons the commitment to reduce clearcutting. Biomass power generation that is inefficient and anything but "green". 


My heart aches.

But I can walk the beaches and trails and see skies so blue and so large that it's impossible for my camera to duplicate. 


My spirits soar.


Then I can visit towns where the sky is filled with emissions instead of clouds. The smell in the air is so bad that eating a summer lunch on an outside deck becomes a chore, not a pleasure. Songwriters can sing about the issue. Photography exhibits can illustrate the problems without saying a word. But our government does not enforce the regulations already in place.

Still, my love of this place cannot be broken. 


I can spend a couple of hours in a friend's boat touring the waters around some islands and see seals basking on the rocks. I can hear their strange calls, and glory in the wonders of nature.

Conversely, I can read about hundreds of homes along the rivers and ocean that pump their waste straight into the water. A young student can get thousands of people to rally behind her to press our local government to make token changes. But our provincial government does not enforce the existing environmental laws to eliminate the problem. According to our local MLA, there are not enough resources to do the job that needs to be done. Apparently there is also not enough will.


Our government allocates our resources to give hundreds of millions of dollars to large corporations, companies that often fold up and leave the province without fulfilling their promises.

But we don't have the resources to protect the very thing that brings our tourists. Our environment is beautiful enough to convince people to leave the places they live and move here instead, but not special enough for our government to protect.

And now our politicians have given their okay to spray over 1300 hectares of woodland with glyphosate, a poison that the World Health Organization deemed a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

It's enough to bring the most positive thinker down. 


What will it take for our politicians to open their eyes and see? How much more will it take for our politicians to look into their hearts and do what is right and protect our most valuable resources? For truly, that is what we all need to focus on.
Wounded by Sara Harley