It seems appropriate to write since
today is Veteran’s Day. I have long
thought of Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the
people who are fighting to help make our homes and our world a better place,
and living a life of service. I know Veteran’s Day is generally focused on acknowledging
members of the military, so while we participate in and listen to the speeches
about courage, valor, bravery, strength against all odds, endurance through
adversity, etc., let’s expand the definition to include public recognition and
appreciation for all of those who are fighting to protect our home, relentlessly
working for a more just world with room for all of us.
May we all lay a wreath of gratitude
and in memory of all those community organizers, educators, agitators,
activists, artists, analysts, meditators, mediators, visionaries and warriors
who have laid down their lives in acts of service. Let us collectively raise a
fist in solidarity with all those fighting today, and open those palms into
handshakes and hugs in mutual support, since it takes all of us.
I woke up thinking about all of people
I work with throughout Appalachia who are fighting for a more just and
sustainable region (yes, I am thinking about each and every one of yall). I am
so grateful to each person, and to each organization, that my heart swells
thinking of all I have witnessed. We all know by now that mountaintop removal
coal mining is literally killing us, there are nineteen formal health studies
that prove it in too many ways, as well as all of the funerals, gall-bladder
surgeries, out-migration, pervasive unemployment and under-employment
throughout the extractive counties in the region, yet people are standing up
every single day to the coal industry, not because they have to, but because
our hearts tell us that we have to.
Let us all take a moment today to
lift up our appreciation for anyone and everyone who is living a life of
service, who is giving themselves to a cause or a movement.
Maybe you want to lift up the
people engaging in the Occupy encampments, or the twelve thousand people who
circled the White House last weekend to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, or
all of the community educators teaching peace-building in schools, artists who
use art to change public discourse, spiritual teachers who are encouraging and
modeling ways to live in line with shared values, etc. I want to personally lift up the hard-working folks
throughout Appalachia and beyond who are working tirelessly to transform the
century old oppression brought on by the corporate dominance of the coal
industry and demanding an immediate end to mountaintop removal coal mining and
transition to a just and sustainable Appalachia.
Thank-you for your service!
Sarah Vekasi, M.Div.