When I took this shot of the white rose and my shadow, I did not see the larger shadow looming behind me — the shadow of a factory spilling toxic ethylene oxide into the air I breathe. I did not see the loss of Ray to cancer. I did not see a mastectomy in my future.
Instead, I saw a moment, seized: creative play with a single rose and a camera. I saw a blue sky on a clear, crisp day. I saw children running, chasing each other in the playground of the daycare behind my home. I heard their excited shrieks and laughter, as my camera clicked away.
Canary in a coal mine.
For those who don’t know the phrase, miners would carry caged canaries down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.
I didn’t see canaries on the day I took that shot but, today, I hear their outcry in this community I love. I feel the panic of those around me who scramble to find the door out of this invisible cage within which we reside. I feel the pressure of broken trust and betrayal while the systems designed to protect us now dismiss us. I feel the heartbreak in the stories shared, all while this factory and some leaders insist there is nothing as wrong as “all that.” After all, who really knows what causes cancer in one and not another. Right? Continue reading “Canaries. Tipping Points. Deadly Toxins.”