The Challenge to Change

A picture of a rural roadside. Retrieved from

When oil spills into a waterway
Flowing down through the trees, shrubs and into the bay
It will have an impact. No doubt about it.
Yet, the magnitude lies in how surrounding citizens act and organize

Some will recognize it for what it is
Something that needs attention and quick
Others will just drive by
Never noticing the leaking barrels by the roadside

Yet, the reactions that are most damaging
Are the ones who see it and choose to do nothing
The ones who choose to conceal rather than reveal
The ones who’d rather see it spread out and “disappear”

The spill may not even be that bad
Yet if people ignore, deny or conceal, it will be worse

In cases like these, I often looked to the driver
The negligence that caused this “accident”
It’s true. We need to hold people accountable for the messes they make
Yet, they are not the only ones making a “mistake”

How we react to the troubles in our neighbourhoods
Can change whether it is a hard day, a hard week or hard years
Yes, it will be hard. Yes, oil spilled into a cherished gathering place
Denial does nothing to change this reality.

We also have a role to play

When there is trouble in our neighbourhoods
We need to acknowledge the source and recognize the impact
We need to contain it, so it doesn’t spread
We need to hold those accountable, so it doesn’t continue

We live in a society that is quick to turn away and hide their face
When the source of our pain is denied, it is paradoxically amplified
It can leave those who’ve been hurt thinking they’re crazy for feeling this way
We cannot help what is hidden, so don’t turn off the lights on a friend

We cannot change the pain we face
We cannot change how people react in its wake

We can change how we are with people who are struggling
We can recognize, listen, support and turn back on the lights
We can be compassionate and active
We can stand up against complacency, denial, ignorance and fear

We can be courageous enough to see our pain is real
To accept its reality and continue moving
To know what can and cannot be done
To not be swayed by those with simply good intentions

We can choose our clean up crew
Just be prepared, not everyone you thought will be with you
The roots of denial, excuse or holding to their old ways runs deep
The challenge to change – to help our natural home and our neighbours – can be steep

Don’t be confused by those who’d rather see the oil “disappear”
There are many quick fixes and false positions that play on our fears

Take time to look around
Know the grasses, pebbles and dirt that make up your neighbourhood grounds
Listen to the sounds – the symphony of amphibians, song of the birds, a cry of a child
Life is too short to be meek and mild

Walk into the wild

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