Imaginary Conversation About a Real Serious Issue


So this human-shaped troll jumps out at me from behind his rock as I am walking to the voting site to cast my ballot which includes a proposal to ban fracking within the city limits of my hometown.

“You gonna vote fer that fracking ban proposal?” he asks me.

“Why yes” I say somewhat startled by this hairy little creature who emanated a decaying odor like road kill.

“Yer crazy as bat shit to do that” he tells me.

Him saying that made me think that maybe it was bat shit he smelled like more than road kill.

“Why is that?”, I asked

“Because this ban is a plot by the Russians to ruin our energy security so Al Gore and his lot can dictate how much we pay for ‘lectricity”, he slurred.

I told him I was pretty sure that that was highly unlikely and that my concern was not only to keep shale gas drilling away from sensitive sites like homes, parks and schools but that it was also part of a bigger effort to reduce the effects of man-made global warming that is creating extreme climate change.

He immediately emitted a dark red slime from his mouth mixed with small animal body parts that wreaked of an odor which confirmed my first suspicions about road kill.

“Global Warming!!!” he frothed.  “Don’t you know that all of that notion is a grand hoax by liberal pinkos.”

As I rolled my eyes I thought to myself to simply tell this whacko to fuck off and go about  the task of voting.  But I had nothing else to do for a few hours so I thought I might amuse myself with this strange being.

“What makes you think global warming is a hoax?” I asked him

“Because smarter people than me said so” he replied

That entailed quite a few people I thought since it didn’t appear that he was much smarter than a third grader.  “Really?” I asked.  “Such as?”

“Well for one that great Okie politishun, Senator Jimmy Inhofe”, he resounded with great confidence.

“James Inhofe?” I retorted.  “He doesn’t have any background in the climate sciences and besides, he receives a ton of money from the oil industry in his state.  It’s the fossil fuel industry who stand to lose profit share if we replace our need for gas, oil and coal with cleaner, infinite sources of energy.  Don’t you think that diminishes his credibility as a climate denier?”

“Hell no!” he barked back   “He’s a man of God and would never lie.  In fact he knows all these such things because God has spoken to him”.

“You mean that invisible man in the sky that no one has ever seen?”  I asked

“That be him”  he grunted.  “And besides Senator Inhofe has the backing of them thar think tanks filled with wise people almost as smart as Mr. Jimmy.”

“Like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute?” I asked.

“Huh?  Yeh, I guess but I was thinking more of Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the Breitbart blog” he retorted.

“Those aren’t think tan …  Oh, never mind”, I said.   “If the obvious physical signs of extreme droughts and sea level risings aren’t enough to convince you then you should know that the climate deniers are heavily funded by big money that comes from people who stand to lose profit share if their carbon-based products are replaced with clean, renewable sources of energy.  People like the Koch brothers and Exxon/Mobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson.

“Exxon-Mobil!”, he exclaimed.   “Boy don’t you know that enterprises like Exxon-Mobil made this country what it is today?”

“You mean besides being the major contributor to green house gases that keep heating up the earth?” I asked

“No, no!”, he angrily replied.   By being the superior power in the world where everyone wants to be like us and where we can impose our will on anyone who don’t want to be ‘Mericun-like.  Don’t you know” he said slyly, “that what’s good for multi-nashunals like Exxon-Mobil is good for ‘Merica”.

“It’s ‘America’ and I think you mean multi-nationals” I said, hesitant that I was simply wasting my breath.

“Damn right it’s ‘Merica and I meant what I said.” he clamored.

By now I was beginning to realize I wasn’t having fun.  In fact I was becoming depressed that stone-heads like this often fight to keep certain people from voting while his ilk constantly vote against their own self-interests.  I would excuse myself but I felt I needed to rattle him just a bit.

“Look, I need to go now because this conversation has created a serious throbbing in my brain but before I do I just wanted you to know that not only am I going to vote on this ban to frack within our city limits but I am going to vote for the people who I think will remove the barricades to voting that have recently been created in this state.  Likewise I am going to vote for those who I feel will diminish the huge income disparity in this country, including a higher minimum wage, give women more control over their own bodies, enact sane gun control legislation, and adequately fund energy sources as well as health care and education that opens up the possibilities that allow our children and their children to have some hope for their future.”

The troll’s face shriveled in a vile contortion and his eye lids closed to small slits that allowed his dark piecing eyes to gaze at me in a way that could only be interpreted as wanting to see me roasted over a burning oil derrick somewhere in some pristine wilderness.

“It’ll never happen you Muslim-loving socialist” he grumbled as he slinked back under the rock he came from.

I knew deep down as I walked away from that smear of a human being that he was probably right.  How did we get to this point in the first place?  How had seemingly savvy, concerned people allowed an extreme mentality that fostered exclusiveness rather than inclusiveness over ride their better judgments and vote for policies that went against their own self-interests?

Was it the insecurity most people experienced following the assault of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon back in September, 2001?  Or did our fear over ride our sense of compassion for others when the markets collapsed in 2002 and then again in 2008, allowing banks too big to fail to be bailed out while the average American lost their home and their jobs?  Did our sense of worry and hopelessness allow us to be easily persuaded by religious fundamentalists that the end times spoken of in Revelations was upon us, allowing us to find scapegoats just enough removed from the status quo to lay all blame on?

Perhaps it was a combination of all of these and our own inability to stay properly informed, tuning in to swamp lands of TV and radio pundits ready to exploit our fear rather than seeking cooler heads to explain things.

My own sense of insecurity sometimes overwhelms me beyond reasonable points of skepticism to deep levels of cynicism, compelling me to give up and just allow things to unfold without any objections on my part.  Will we ever escape this morass that touts free markets as savior and government as a tool of the anti-christ?  Have we become a generation of weaklings that can’t push our way out of a wet paper bag of the status quo, comfortable in our own self-indulgent, over-consumptive ways?

Will there ever be a time that comes that excite the people as it once was when our young nation first aspired to becoming the world’s first true democracy?  The world is getting smaller and more fragile as we ignore the threats of climate change from man-made global warming and a government that spies on its citizens as it militarizes the police forces, builds more prisons, privatizes all of the public commons and allows religious zealots to dictate national policy.   Is democracy dead or dying and plutocracy on the rise?

But then I am inspired by the people I have recently become associated with in this David vs. Goliath battle here in Denton, Texas, that has a plurality of people fighting the special interests of the oil and gas industry in a state where oil was once king and whose memory still lives on in the confused minds of people who refuse to emerge from the past century, into the future.

A recent story in the local paper illustrates this uneven battle in terms of money showing that the people who want to continue drilling and fracking oil and gas wells near our homes, schools, churches, parks and hospitals have raised nearly $700,000.  Of that huge sum only $210 of it came from 6 people who actually show a Denton address.  Everything else comes from outsiders, primarily the fossil fuel companies themselves who are exploiting this shale gas for themselves.

On the other side is a strong group of local citizens who have managed to raise about a one-tenth of that $700,000, approximately $75,000.   Yet there are indicators that we have united the majority of Denton citizens to vote for the ban on fracking and may in fact win this battle.  This hope becomes pronounced when those nasty voices like my little imaginary troll become louder, where everyday people who are concerned about the health of their families and the values of their property are depicted as “agitators” and “extremists” by the small percentage of people who will likely see their mineral property right royalties dry up if this ban is successful.

It may not seem like much when put up against all of the oppressive acts of the oligarchs in this country and around the world but it is one of many small battles being waged by energized citizens who are tired of their representatives they elected to office fending for the special interests rather than for the common interests.  As I reflect on this walking through the doors of the voting site, I’m lifted somewhat to keep fighting and voting for those who challenge the status quo, the wealthy powerful and the ignorance that predominates most of our democratic institutions.

I must do this.  I have two kids that will hopefully outlive me and I don’t want them to look back some day when the effects from our actions that tipped the balance of a protective atmosphere and poisoned the land and water overwhelm them and they feel that I didn’t do anything to prevent it.

I want to be remembered by them as H. Jackson Brown, Jr. encouraged me in his writings years ago to “Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.”

8 responses to “Imaginary Conversation About a Real Serious Issue

    • Thanks Steve. This piece sat in a document for nearly two weeks because I just couldn’t get it beyond a droll, meaningful state for it. Then just this morning it all came together and after rewriting the half after the imaginary conversation I felt comfortable enough to post it.

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