There’s a strain of Puritan in me. Which seeks to be blameless, harmless, but is narrow and has too much fear at its base, even though it has a sprinkling of love. There’s another strain in me of seven-generation vision, which is more expansive, though tinged with sorrow at earth’s losses. The emotion often doesn’t want to flow through me and leave me softened and at rest, but instead eddies in circles along each side of the flow.
Late-summer brought the pleasure of painting our house a vibrant new color. Of truly owning our home instead of going for safe resale value. We went for very high quality paint, not wanting to paint again for 10 years. We went to our local paint store, naturally, which has a wonderful, knowledge-deep staff. We asked about low VOC, and learned the entire industry has been moving to lower volatile organic compounds in paint, and we should be confident in our selection. We chose their Pittsburgh paint.
We even got a rebate, from PPG Industries.
So it was with a familiar sinking feeling that I read in the Sunday Seattle Times that PPG had been sued by the West Virginia Department of Ecology over repeatedly dumping illegal amounts of mercury into the Ohio River from Natrium, south of Wheeling, West VA. The reason this was mentioned was the big story out of Charleston, West Virginia and this month’s disaster of their ruined drinking water. The article was about the backdrop of West Virginia politics setting up the disaster to happen.
The way it works there is interesting. PPG actually asked Ecology to sue them. This would enable them to stave off being sued by two environmental groups under the Clean Water Act. Apparently, they were confident the state would be a friendly adversary. And indeed, the state could seize the issue this way and settle with PPG, who could then return to business as usual? It’s not clear from just this sidelight in the larger story. But was is clear is that the West Virginia governmental bodies are anti-regulation. You’d think that was maybe natural given the importance of coal mining there.
You’d be left scratching your head. Because it says that today coal mining only employs four percent of WV’s labor force.
Anyway, back to my title question. How can I live in this big corporate world? Was there a better choice of paint I wasn’t aware of? Or that I didn’t want to be aware of because of the budget and the rebate?
And then I think, right action can’t all rest on my shoulders. How to live? My answer for now is to participate in the cultural discussion, and push for shining light on our dark corners. Things do get addressed that way, in time.