This Land Does Not Die

(This is a copy of what Craig Barnes said during the rally in Santa Fe)

The Land Does Not Lie

Craig Barnes
Santa Fe, NM
May 17, 2014

The grass on the hill where I live was mowed down by sheep 150 years ago and the soil is gone and the grass has no black richness in which to grow today. Not all my wishing can make good soil be there today. The land does not pretend to grow grass. It grows grass or does not. The land does not pretend to erode. It erodes. The land does not claim that next year will be abundant and everything will be fine. The land is neutral. The land does not pretend to be beautiful. It is what it is. The land does not lie.

In New York City, after the great Sandy Hook hurricane, city officials, are today trying to raise funds to build a wall to block out the sea, standing at the waters edge like King Canute II commanding the waves to stop. In Miami Beach, Florida, they don’t have to wait for more hurricanes, the water already rises at high tides and regularly floods the streets. The state’s governor and one of its US senators are like stone statues standing while the water rises above their ankles, heading ever upward, while these two statues proclaim that climate change is a hoax. But the sea does not pretend. The sea is neutral. The sea does not lie and it is rising to their knees.

In New Mexico, we have seen forest fires rage along a 60 mile ridgeline; we see once again our piñons stressed by drought loving beetles, and we have a governor and an environmental department that fosters the development of more coal, and more oil and gas, funded during this season’s political campaign by producers from Texas who do not stand in awe of our fires or in despair because of our dying trees. But, unlike our governor, our trees do not respond to oil money from Texas and they die just the same, and the dead ghosts of piñon trees are scattered from here to the Colorado border, and they do not lie.

These years we have a political culture in which the national politicians on both sides each claim that the other side is lying, and we have a national media that fosters accusations of lying, and we have a public bewildered by elaborately dressed up and fancified claims that the future resides with the development of the tar sands, or fracking, or international trade agreements. Political ads and oil and gas commercials will do what they can to turn fiction into truth, and exploitation into patriotism.

But fear not. The truth is here in the land we walk, and the air we breathe, and in our bated breaths while we look to the sky for rain. While the richest among us may hide their eyes or seek solace in growth, capitalism, and materialism, the land, the sea, and the forests do not lie and cannot be persuaded by Fox News to lie, and the requirements for a living breathing planet cannot be faked, and the search for beauty cannot be replaced by growth funds, derivatives, or mountains of gold. Those who march today, and assemble today, will win in the end because the land and the sea and the forests spread their messages every day, reinforce their messages season after season, march on inexorably with truths that cannot be hidden. The waters will continue to rise against the sea walls of New York City, and will rise above the knees to the shoulders and necks of the politicians in Florida, and will eventually cover the very mouths of those who deny that they are even getting wet. Then they will be silent.

Time is on the side of the air land, sea, and water; mother Gaia does not lie, she is our partner and we are hers.

Thank you, marchers, for coming to New Mexico; thank you for standing up for all of us; march on!