Divided we fall

People are always in such a damn hurry to get out there and get their hands on that money, no matter the consequences (both short-term and long-term). Don’t get me wrong, I like money too and could always use more of it (who couldn’t?), but when it comes to making a quick buck at someone else’s expense ... well, that’s kind of where I draw the line.

And yes, I’m talking about natural gas ... and drilling ... and money.

It’s a topic that’s been in the headlines for years now (as if anyone has missed it), one that’s extremely controversial and one that – more and more – seems to deal less with facts than with propaganda and fear-mongering – on both sides, I might add.

Me? I’ve made up my mind – and did so quite some time ago – but that’s neither here nor there. And I’m not going to waste any time writing this week’s column in an attempt to change anyone’s mind, because I know that’s never going to happen. I simply wanted to weigh-in on some observations I’ve made over the past couple of months ... and some conclusions I’ve arrived at.

First of all, a couple of comparisons for you. The natural gas industry reminds me of that guy (or gal) who shows up to all the parties, never brings a drop to drink but helps himself (or herself) to all the booze, never brings a dish to pass, but eats three helpings of everything on the table and – once the party’s over – asks for a ride home because sobriety left the building a long, long time (and seven or eight beers) ago.

Oh, not to mention the fact that he (or she) trashed your bathroom, living room and kitchen, and managed to steal your favorite Garth Brooks CD to boot before meandering out the door and into the night.

Those individuals opposed to drilling? Well, they bring to mind the wailing child at the grocery store who’s throwing a tantrum for no obvious reason other than they’re not getting their way (or that toy they simply must have) and have to embarrass all the other kids who are behaving themselves (not to mention their own parents).

No cookies and milk for you.

And while it may seem I’m making light of the situation (which is quite serious, I know), I have to wonder ... does anyone remember the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall?”

Face it, we are a politically, socially and spiritually divided nation at this juncture; we’ve lost any and all ability to rationally discuss even the most mundane of matters, let alone those more serious in nature. Right wing, left wing, independent, GOP, NRA, socialist – even communist – gay, straight, atheist, Republican, Democrat ... pro-drilling, anti-drilling ... the list of generalizations goes on and on. The worst part, if you ask me, is that we’re spoon-fed this drivel 24 hours a day, thanks to cable television.

I think maybe it’s time we take a break.

As a nation, we have the potential to lead the world by example, an idea (and ideal) that’s been lost in the mix since the Vietnam War (and maybe even before that). Division breeds suspicion, tension and – ultimately – violence. It creates barriers; walls that we should be tearing down, not repairing for the sake of argument. We’ve lost our ability to empathize with one another, and it’s destroying everything this country stands for.

As for the horizontal drilling issue, both sides have valid points. And that’s a good starting point for both sides to address the debate. The “drill, baby, drill” crowd (I’m so sick and tired of the phrase) have it right, they really do. Because it’s entirely possible that drilling can be done in a safe and responsible manner. Will it bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to Chenango County? To be honest, I don’t know, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

As for you “NIMBYs” out there (another term I’m fed up with) ... well, you have it right as well. The potential consequences of hydraulic fracturing are no laughing matter. It’s my personal belief that clean water – over the course of the next century or so – will become one of our species’ most precious resources. And if our local water supply is contaminated due to horizontal drilling, who’s going to pay the price? Not the gas industry, I can almost guarantee that. And not the people who get rich thanks to the controversial process; they’ll be long gone with their pockets stuffed full of dirty money.

Who will pay? You will, I will, our children will.

Regardless, cooperation and cool heads should (and could, if we had the patience) prevail. The finger-pointing, the name-calling and the unwillingness to listen to both sides of the drilling issue will – in the end – only lead to disaster, on so many levels. Instead, maybe we should take a lesson from Master Yoda. You know, the little green guy with the lightsaber and the pointy ears.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

If we do not learn to live – and make these important decisions – with respect, humility and an open mind, we will fail.

It’s as simple as that.

Follow me on Twitter ...@evesunbrian.

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