XIII. What modern cultural issues are closest Poseidon’s heart?
My first impulse is to say: the environment, and while that’s true, I think more, suffering. I struggle with this, because . . . well, it’s all so insurmountable, and I don’t think anything will really change until power is taken out of the hands of those in power and changes are forced . . . and I don’t believe that a revolution lead by people is going to be what changes things. We do not live in any sort of a sustainable way, and the option to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle is a privilege that many people will never have. So-called ‘green’ solutions are adopted by some – using non-toxic cleansers, eating organically, supporting local agriculture, adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, recycling, etc. So much of this depends on where you live, what your area offers (curb-side recycling is not an option everywhere, and any sort of recycling in such areas presupposes one has a car, which is kind of cutting off the nose to spite the face). Is eating organically better or worse than eating locally? How does eating locally and seasonally work in a place that has a short growing season, and one is digestively impaired? How is using linen napkins and towels in a household with babies or the ill or the infirm, thus requiring frequent washing, using energy and water, better than using disposable cleaning supplies that requires less water usage? Do we spend time making all our own cleaners and tending to the house with no help from time-saving, harsher chemicals when so many of us are slave-wages, working 40 hours or more, with inadequate, or no, vacation or personal time.* Do we give up what little “free” time we have to be slaves to house upkeep? What about those of us who do not have the option or ability to do it this way? This does not even touch the legal issues that many people looking to live more sustainably face – consider the legalities facing the tiny house movement, of the fact that in many places collecting your own rain water is illegal, or that composting toilets are not options for many. This is also doesn’t touch upon the problem that, of the three sacred Rs of the green movement (Reduce, reuse, recycle), recycling is the one that gets the most focus, and that, as regards plastics, recycling does not mean what most people think it means.
And that’s assuming you can even “recycle” anything more than your 1s and 2s in your area.
See? Insurmountable – though, admittedly, I have something of a defeatist mentality.
Oddly (or not?), Poseidon was the first one to make a dent in my prison of pessimism, and it was over our effect on the environment, to boot. He was the first to allow me some distance, to breathe and to look at the problem. It took a long, long time for me to reach where I’m at now. My stance now? Yeah, you know, I don’t think it’s going to make a difference. I don’t think that, if we all start recycling now, we can alter the course we’re on. I don’t think that we care enough about ourselves or the world for a change to happen. I don’t believe our idea of how to live and be in the world is going to change, on a societal scale, until the interconnectedness of the globe is less, until we are forced to live a slower paced life. Recycling isn’t going to do any good. All the green cleanser in the world isn’t going to help. We’re doomed, and I only wish that we weren’t going to be taking others with us, but mass extinctions are a part of being on a planet with carbon based lifeforms.
I’m going to recycle anyway. I’m going to do the things that I can do, as I can do them, because it’s reached a point for me where it’s as much about alleviating the suffering of others if I can, when I can, as it is about saving the planet.
My getting to this point has all been Poseidon’s doing. He started by making the actions and choices of my species impersonal – we do not control our circumstances to that degree, and most of us are simply trying to survive, and most of us do not want to have to also swim upstream in every aspect of our lives.
I have a terminally ill dog who is on diuretics. He pees a lot. We used to have small throws tucked around the house in his preferred accident places; but this meant we were washing blankets every day. How much soap going into the water supply? How much water being used, and energy, drying everything? Every day. Sometimes twice. Our apartment is small; we have no place to store soiled linens until we have a “full load” for the washer.
We use disposable pee pads now. We don’t go through them super-fast, but we do use them, and will continue to do so for the remainder of his life.
Environmental concerns do matter to Poseidon. They matter a lot. But another concern, which I fear is over looked too often is that of suffering.
Suffering is at the heart of Poseidon’s . . . er . . . heart. That it happens, that we cause it in others, that we experience it. There’s a certain lack of value-judgment placed when one is considering suffering. Now, to be honest, when its suffering we’re inflicting upon others (and by ‘others’ I mean those we share the world with as much, or more, than I mean other humans) I’m pretty sure that the lack of value-judgment is deliberate. I’ve glimpsed His anger and grief over the state of the waters on the planet, the tiniest, smallest glimpse, and for us to face that is to be rendered impotent – and that could be good, if everyone saw this, but we know they don’t. Our Gods, They are smart. They know what They’re doing. Rendering us immobile does nothing to get us to make changes. So much of the stillness I experience with Him is Him being still so as to not cause undue damage.
But I’ve also been with Him during the aftermath of devastating earthquakes. I’ve felt His anguish at the suffering of untold thousands after the earth betrayed them and danced like liquid across the landscape. My god feels, and He feels deeply, and He cares about suffering. He cares about those in pain. He reaches out His hands and He wants so much to comfort to soothe, to reassure, to ease that pain. Species does not matter. Heck, kingdom (in the scientific sense of the word) does not matter to Him. When we think of sending aid, we concern ourselves with our own kind, or our pets or our livestock; we think not at all of the other animals hurt or killed during such disasters. It’s natural, it’s to be expected, but He’s not human, this god, and He cares, deeply, for those living, those dying, those whose lives are changed by disaster. The natural disasters connected to Him – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis – these things cut at Him, and His empathy is a thing to witness, and I wish more people saw that.
*to illustrate my point: I don’t consider myself part of the working poor. I make more than minimum wage at my 40 hours a week job, but I certainly could not afford to live on my own. If anything happens to Beth so that she cannot work, things will become extremely bleak. I have paid sick time (two days, after being with my company for a decade) and vacation (two weeks.) I’m on vacation this week. This is the first time since spring of 2012 that I’ve used my vacation time for vacation. The remainder of my vacation was used up in 2012 to attend funerals for my grandparents; 2013 went to my back injury and household illness; 2014 went to my surprise dental surgery. While I’m grateful that I was able to get paid for the time I missed at work, better ‘personal time’ coverage would have enabled me to have some time off, to rest and enjoy life. And, so that we’re clear, I recognize that I am lucky to have had the paid time off at all; I know that is not the case that many people face.