Friday, February 3, 2012

"Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

This is an oft quoted phrase, supposedly spoken by Jesus, representative of the line between Church and state...what then do we say to define that line between government and personal rights and property? More importantly, just what is Caesar's? Just what is God's, and what is ours as individuals?  In these troubling times we live in, these are not intellectual questions to be discussed over martinis by those fortunate enough to be in that one percent who seem to rule over the rest of us...Modern day Caesar's bent on accumulating their wealth at the expense of the proverbial uncleansed masses.

Down through the ages of Industrialized America there is example after example of individuals, groups, and communities being forced to pay the ultimate price in the name of progress, or in the name of National Security. The latest example being the current war over Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing, though moving backward from that point, the examples are numerous with perhaps the most notable one being poorly regulated nuclear energy, another the extraction of coal in states such as West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.  

Energy...At what cost?
There is a term in environmental enforcement that is defined on the NRC website called ALARA.  This acronym is short for, "as low as (is) reasonably achievable."  The verse goes on to say, "which means making every reasonable effort to maintain exposures to ionizing radiation as far below the dose limits as practical, consistent with the purpose for which the licensed activity is undertaken, taking into account the state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to benefits to the public health and safety, and other societal and socioeconomic considerations, and in relation to utilization of nuclear energy and licensed materials in the public interest.

Who decides what is reasonably achievable...can we say big business, can we say government?  Just who and what is being protected in this ALARA...too often it is not the public, it is not the host community, but instead it is company profits, and a government agenda.  Here is a fact...the United States Federal Government knows that a certain number of people in a host community will contract a cancer living within close proximity to a nuclear reactor, but they A) do not care, and B) will not admit that some people will die in the name of nuclear energy as long as their licensee is within whatever current exposure limits are established under this concept of as low as reasonably (read affordable for the company) achievable standard.
Should rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's include giving up our lives in the name of the "Greater Societal Good", in the name of a "National Energy Policy"?  At what point are individuals, or small communities allowed to say no, at what point are we as oppressed communities allowed to use force to stop what is the systematic rape of our communities and our the case of Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing for example, we are being asked to risk our health, our environment, our pristine rural way of life, and our drinking water supplies in the name of Natural Gas Industry profits, in the name of the United States of America's Energy Policy.

Let us be clear...there are health risks that will come with Natural Gas wells being drilled in our communities. Some of those risks will contribute too, or cause the early death of some at risks citizens.  Let us be clear, there will be accidents, and there will be examples where communities or private citizens water supplies will be negatively impacted.  Should any government be allowed the right to force us to accept these risks, should they be allowed to expect us to render unto Caesar that which Caesar feels is a right of entitlement because such sacrifices being asked of us are good for the "Greater Society".  Or instead, if the desires of government place our health, safety and community in danger, should we be allowed to "Just say no"?  If the needs wants and hungers of a greedy capitalist company depend upon the rape of our lands, or in some cases the taking of them, should we not be allowed to use force to stop such wrongful actions?

Perhaps as I approach those proverbial end times, more of my life over than life left to live, I have not the patience for the lies being perpetrated by both government and industry.  Perhaps I have seen too many people have their lives shortened, their quality of life stolen away by industrial processes which are poorly regulated by government.  Perhaps I realize in being silent, we are losing our collective voice and with that lost voice we are losing not just our freedoms, but all that which is ours.  Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, but the time has come to redefine just what it is that Caesar should be allowed to claim as his own.