How do I begin to write about something as overwhelming as fracking?
I have good reasons why I’ve been silent on paper so far. Swamped with Big Topics at Midnight and opening Big Topics Conversations. Overwhelmed whenever I remember that right now rock formations are being fractured through blasts of chemical-laden water in order to free up trapped natural gas and oil. Troubled that this is happening in gas wells where I own a .01562501 royalty interest.
What am I to do with a paradox that wide?
Sell it and walk away, clean? Just like I could give away all of my family money and walk away, clean?
What is “clean”?
If I sell it, the practice will still continue and I will still be who I am. I won’t be absolved from responsibility. One way that money has made my thinking stupid* over the years is that part of me wants to escape from my complicity in a system I disagree with by pushing away my family financial legacy. I’ve tried to do the same thing with the privilege I receive merely because my skin is white. But I am still the same me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have sold stocks and mutual funds that aren’t in alignment with my values. But something more is required here.
I first heard about fracking in 2006 when I was visiting my grandfather’s ranch on a pilgrimage back to my homeland of Texas (where I am now a partial owner of the “mineral rights” but not “surface rights”). The journey was one part of a larger pilgrimage into my ancestral history to Germany, North Carolina, Texas and, now, Oregon during the writing of Big Topics at Midnight. I set out on those trips when I realized I’d spent far too much of my life trying to cut out parts of myself that embarrassed me. Knowing that I need all of me to live the life I was born to live, I returned to the land of my family hoping to find clarity, healing and right action.
On the ranch seven years ago, I knew nothing of the actual geological impact of this drilling practice. Nevertheless, it felt to me as if fracking was cutting out huge holes in the body of Mother Earth while spewing toxic chemicals into our farmland and drinking water. As far as I could tell, fracking waste would be added to nuclear waste, piling up for future generations to deal with.
It didn’t make sense to me.
Gas prices are currently low. If we frack now, what will happen when high prices tempt us?
Is there no end to what humans will do to make money and exert control over the natural world? This is an escalating conquest that we won’t win.
My work is to open Big Topics Conversations on things like money, gender, race, power, justice, generational healing and soul. These topics are at the core, like the magma at the center of the Earth. Hot, molten topics. How we are in them—personally as well as in families, communities, organizations, systems, nationally, globally—is the underpinning of our decision making and values. My focus is rightly there.
Yet I can’t ignore fracking. It is hurting our shared homeland. In addition, it is part of the flow of money that pays my bills, funded the writing and now marketing of Big Topics at Midnight, finances my travels to open these conversations and is the source of my financial support of three organizations dear to my heart—Be Present, Inc., Harvest Time and Community Wholeness Venture.
My work continues. Fracking continues. There are only so many hours in a day. I continue my spiritual practice of standing in partnership with a diversity of people right in the midst of the deep gaps that cut through our world.
Giving words to this hot topic is the next step on my journey. I’m listening for guidance about the following step.
* I play with the ways that “Money Made [my husband] Howard Stupid” in Big Topics at Midnight, page 241 after he made that comment about himself. From time to time, money has indeed made Howard’s and my thinking stupid. The important thing is how we work with that before it translates into stupid actions.
For more information on Fracking check out the following links: Pro Public webpage devoted to fracking: http://www.propublica.org/series/fracking (multiple articles on this site) and IRRC report, Discovering Shale Gas: An Investor Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing: http://www.irrcinstitute.org/projects.php?project=56 (Long downloadable report, but page 5 has Key findings)