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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Scioto: A Lost Eden of Neglect

"An the wild flowers, which your maidens once loved to wear,
have all withered and died.

"Then, they will destroy these forests, whose branches wave in the winds above the graves of your fathers, chanting their praises.

"As sure as the heavens are above you, they are determined to destroy you and your children and occupy this goodly land themselves.

"If you doubt it, come, go with me eastward or southward a few days' journey along your ancient trails, and I will show you a land you once occupied made desolate.

"There the forests of untold years have been hewn down
then cast into the fire!"


Early dwellers in our homeland built many mounds along the Scioto River and its tributaries. The river and the soil fostered ancient cultural centers of prehistoric America. The land was an Eden for local populations, as evidenced in the Native American words Ohio meaning “beautiful” and Scioto translating to “deer.” The river, as an early navigation tool, along with rich wild life and numerous outcroppings of salt continued to bring many woodland native peoples here.

People thrived in this natural river environment. As the Scioto has always been prone to flooding, the flooding created rich topsoil that became highly regarded for growing native crops. Thus, the river created a wide flood plain in many areas that offered excellent farming. Realizing their precious gift from the Great Spirit, the Shawnee defended their beloved home against all threats of intrusion.

Hundreds of years ago as European settlers came into the Ohio Territory, Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader, warned of the terrible human destruction that would be caused by the foreigners from Europe who cared little for the natural environment. His prophetic words reached fruition as hordes of immigrants drove Native Americans from what would later become Scioto County.

Despite many good intentions, early European residents of the Ohio frontier continued greedy policies of economic gain and natural consumption while ignoring the effects of their vast devastation. They, perhaps somewhat unknowingly, distanced themselves from the water, the flora, the fauna, and the soil – the God-given natural gifts of sustenance.

And much later, the words of the great Shawnee warrior ring ever so true as they relate to our beloved homeland of Scioto County in the 21st century.

As we continue to spoil the beautiful land and willingly feed the stereotypes of our own ignorance, we sustain our unhealthy lives. We foolishly believe we can “buy” and “own” a depleted treasure we have ruined by continuing our stilted possession and gross consummation. We care little about what we should replenish.

Greedily feeding our material, pleasurable desires, we have transformed our Garden into a symbol of despair. Calling this unforgiving damage “progress,” we foolishly assume nature will somehow restore itself even in the overwhelming wake of a flood of foolish neglect.

We, the people entrusted to protect and take care of our environment, continue to disregard our responsibilities to live in harmony with the land and with our fellow citizens. In 2015, we find ourselves living in one of the most unhealthy regions in the nation, the epicenter of prescription drug abuse, the heart of Cancer Alley, and the poverty-stricken Appalachian foothills.

In blame of economic depression and joblessness, residents currently seek chemical solutions that provide escape from an unbearable reality – a reality of living in their own self-constructed enclosures that prevent any simple, foreseeable improvement. They smoke, drink, ingest drugs, and generally use any means available to anesthetize their brains and ignore their own pitiful condition.

And, as more and more of us defile ourselves in these cages, we also thoughtlessly contaminate everything and everyone around us. We rob, steal, abuse, and even kill to satisfy wicked desires. We destroy ourselves, our families, and our innocent neighbors. Such contempt and indifference to our fellow man assure a perpetual entrapment unless drastic change is initiated.

Self-initiated, positive change proves to be extremely difficult. Many intelligent residents who can escape the polluted environment do so through their own strong free wills while they are young and strong. Upon graduation, most of our children leave their homes to seek other promising places where hope and opportunity still dwell. As they continue to exit in droves, we lose our most precious resource raised for a dream of recovery. They become generations who benefit other places, lost to our own hopeful homeland renovations.

As the wounds of our abuse open ever wider, we become accustomed to chronic pain and depression. This totally blinds us to what really matters in our homeland – the love and care of the natural and human resources entrusted to us.

As we arrogantly believe power, force, authority, and political connections will build an area of industry and fortune, we lose the vision to understand the true beauty that encompasses our lives in the Scioto lands. We live in resistance to re-establishing the spirit of harmony that enriches the souls of our people who should live in loving coexistence with our environment and with our fellow human inhabitants. Refusing to understand that we merely borrow time and space here makes people think part of their birthright is to use and to abuse any way they see fit.

We must reclaim a lost Garden in this Eden: replenishing both the land and the caring culture. Ugly, unused private dwellings owned by slum lords; dangerous, polluted water and air; meth labs, drug houses, and deal-enabling hotels; avenues populated by prostitutes and their dirty clients; black-hearted thieves and liars; secluded havens for human trafficking; lots and businesses of careless abandonment; cigarette butts and syringes littering public places; trash and ugly landfills; and, most of all, evil people intent on making fortunes by gladly supplying all means of human suffering for personal profit are deadly enemies to a healthy Scioto County.

Yet, most of all, we must reclaim ourselves. Our possessions – homes, acreage, cars, material comforts, expensive conveniences – all are worthless without health and harmony. Unless we maintain a conviction to believe we are part of an interdependent tribe of humans dedicated to loving and to preserving the very earth, water, air, and species that comprise our environment, we will perish without hope. That reclamation begins with self-love and extends to denying the pollution of all things material to our minds, our hearts, and our souls.

Growth of Man -- like Growth of Nature --

by Emily Dickinson

Growth of Man -- like Growth of Nature --
Gravitates within --
Atmosphere, and Sun endorse it --
Bit (restrain) it stir -- alone --

Each -- its difficult Ideal
Must achieve -- Itself --
Through the solitary prowess
Of a Silent Life --

Effort -- is the sole condition --
Patience of Itself --
Patience of opposing forces --
And intact Belief --

Looking on -- is the Department
Of its Audience --
But Transaction -- is assisted
By no Countenance --
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