From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 49 - 8/3/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Smile When You Say That

It is with increasing disappointment I keep seeing the words "green" and "greenies" used in the paper with the same unthinking whipsaw intent to diminish and demean usually reserved for words like "nigger." Quick now, let's marginalize and malign a whole bunch of people based on little more than their virtual color. And let's do it casually so hardly anyone notices at first so it will then more likely become second nature.

Is this deja vu, or what? Haven't we already been through this with the colors black and brown, yellow and red? Over and over we continue suffering this weak, angry blindness. Does green now have to bear its burden too? What's next? Blue? There are no blue people. How fortunate for them. (In the interest of honesty, some of my ancestors painted themselves blue in time of war, but I don't think that counts.)

This "green" name-calling is color bigotry as surely as the others except greens, so far anyway, have not been rounded up and herded into camps or hunted for fun on the frontier or sold on the auction block to the highest bidder. Greenies, as you call them, have been clubbed, stomped, gassed, and jailed to be sure, but you have to expect that sort of reaction when you stand up for your beliefs.

That faction of people referred to as "green" covers such a wide rainbow of people and environmental concerns from outlaw monkeywrenchers to little old ladies who want to clean up the park that it's almost useless as a descriptive term. It tries to include everyone from the radical Edward Abbey to the radical Richard Nixon, who founded the EPA. This is a category so broad it includes just about everyone. But maybe that's as it should be, because I believe everyone is "green" at heart. Every single person on the planet is an environmentalist though they all may not know it and many don't want to be called one and some don't especially want their daughters to marry one, excepting maybe if it's a doctor or a lawyer.

By environmentalist, I mean someone who cares about the place we live and wants its beauty conserved and its resources used in a responsible and common-sense manner. Doesn't everyone want that? Are there folks out there with so basic a disagreement with the above definition that they slam the table with a meaty fist, stand up, and proclaim themselves to be, by God, against the environment? Do they have bumper stickers and tattoos that read: "Trash the Planet Now!!!" Do they sit around glued to the TV, itching for the news that the last tree in the Amazon has fallen? The last fish is dead? The last bird sung? The whale, the elephant, the big cat gone? I don't think there really are people with ideas like that. (Not counting, of course, the radio/TV talk show freak circuit.)

We all want to protect the environment and enjoy its fruits. The questions then get thornier, of course, and start splintering out into labyrinthian realms. How much punishment can the ol' bag of magna take? Who gets to do the taking? How much? How quickly? Who gets the money? Feverish chest beating, much shrill discussion, even some wee peeps of honest disagreement, attend these questions. Try to look on the bright side though. If we all agreed about everything, we'd be living in a totalitarian state. That's one of the tell-tale signs, and nobody wants that. Right? Either way, don't judge me by some "color" you've decided to paint me with your near-sighted brush. Call me green but be smiling when you do it.

And, by the way, don't let the Rev. Jerry Falwell catch you even wearing something the color purple.

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Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul