In Japan, following the horrific destruction by earthquake and tsunami in the year two thousand eleven, a forbidding tableau continues to play out and, in all likelihood, will do so for centuries to come.
Within the dead zone of the damaged Fukushima reactors, ghost towns like Futaba, Namie, and Tomioka, once home to many thousands, have become wild laboratories. In them, nature strives to devise a new code. Bound and bent by conditions she would never have been able to forge on her own, a wounded Earth seeks viable combinations able to survive life-denying contamination and reclaim that which Man has, of necessity, forsaken.
And still, Mankind has yet to complete its ongoing efforts to foul the environment beyond hope of redemption, or survival.
Rivers of cars and trucks flow in endless procession across the land. Great floating vessels, heavy with lading, traverse the seas. Rail and winged containers packed with cargo, both corporeal and inanimate, are flung across the map of civilization. Gears mesh and turn. The hands of clocks circuit in ceaseless sequence, paced, patient precision marking out a cadence to which all but the most displaced in society will march.
This explicit synchronization drives the great globe-spanning Corporations—artificial, yet fully invested beings made of legal documents and money.
Like feral children, they are unconstrained id and profligate ego rampant. Unaware they are, in fact, hypothetical constructs, devoid of conscience and yet somehow like us, they will commit any act to prove they are “real” and secure their cold legacy.
The appetites of these non-human entities are insatiable, a bottomless hunger for souls and energy. Souls are cheap. Energy, as it turns out, is not, and all collateral expense and damage in the pursuit of more of it is impersonal.
Business and its partner, Industry, strive to provide for every conceivable human need, play to an interminable demand for diversion, and cater to a spectrum of profitable personality disorders. Industry’s demand on natural resources is the price of its unparalleled contribution to human comfort, and human suffering, while unfortunate, is an acceptable component of its effluent, an unadvertised bi-product of its prodigious output. Production and waste, yin and yang, universal balance manifest.
A population that dreams of reaching the stars stacks itself, one on top of the other, in an effort to climb over its neighbor to accomplish the feat, piercing the sky, yet continuing repeatedly to miss the celestial mark.
In response, a petulant civilization consoles itself with comforts and distractions. Those living higher on the heap, closer to heaven, more richly blessed by the Gods, pose. Their grace and beauty, their acumen, their contributions to the whole of humankind, if only by their superlative example, are their legacy. Therefore, they have been rewarded more generously, not only by the very Gods themselves, but by every single individual supporting them from below. Whether by divine right, or popular acquiescence, they will reap the ripest fruits, the tenderest cuts, the most luxurious appointments, and the shiniest accoutrements. Conversely, those beneath, depending on their proximity to either the penthouses or the sewers, are welcome to whatever trickles down.
In mankind’s unrelenting hunger for energy, fast food, and cheap commodities in sturdy, disposable plastic packaging, the Great Mother has been punctured, cracked open and plumbed, scraped raw, scooped out, poisoned, pissed on, and left for dead.
Looks like our job is nearly done here. Who wants pie?
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Originally published in the second annual anthology issue of “Groundwaters” in 2016. I found it in an ‘Unsorted’ folder and brushed it off a bit. [TOTH and/or apologies to Dennis Miller.] ~DRLE