Daily news and imagined solutions regarding Russia’s devasting attacks on Ukraine can be heard and read via every news source out there. It is indeed horrific—Putin setting out to annihilate a country and its people in order to control pipelines and resources while expanding Russia’s land mass—not to mention putting the world on the precipice of nuclear war.
There are no words or pictures that truly convey this slaughter. HISTORY is our only proof that such travesty can occur and has occurred in the past…..repeatedly.
But what about the inhabitants of other countries around the world whose land has been usurped by guns, war and/or famine? We, the U.S., welcome the light-skinned, perhaps educated Ukrainians, with open arms and borders. Of course, it is the moral thing to do. We are also spending BILLIONS of dollars to help Ukraine fight off its invaders, keeping America’s war machine and fossil fuel industries exceedingly profitable while poor Americans get poorer, angrier and more desperate. Homelessness and shoot-outs increase exponentially throughout the country. No city or zone is immune.
And, what about all those refugees knocking on our doors whose leaders are burning their rain forests for industrial gain or allowing people to be murdered or disappeared to advance cartel control, often in governmental alliance, or those whose countries have been destroyed by earthquakes and climate devastation or those indigenous people and other residents whose land, homes, liberty and livelihoods are being usurped i.e. stolen daily within their borders with BILLIONS of American dollars misdirected.
The U.S. sees the latter, darker-skinned ‘others’ as having lives NOT truly threatened, NOT our problem and definitely NOT welcome here. And, of course, several European countries hold out the welcome mat for only a chosen few as well as those who’s perceived ‘whiteness’ or whose country’s political ideologies are conveniently adversarial to ours or theirs—specifically those who won’t upset the racial balance or get a perceived ‘free ride.’
For the last few years my paintings have been inspired by impending climate catastrophe. It is what I consider to be the most frightening and urgent matter facing all of us. But the refugee crises in so many places are inexorably linked to issues of greed and resulting climate changes on every continent on earth. Between ever-mounting human population growth that the earth cannot adequately sustain and the resulting inevitable grab for political dominance and natural resources, land and profit—the picture before us is even more terrifying to say the least—if we bother to connect the dots.
The way I see it is that we’re all connected and that we are all HUMANS—a fact not to be overlooked, dismissed or violated. We all seek basically the same things—freedom from persecution, freedom to pursue and fulfill our dreams, a sense of belonging, clean uncontaminated adequate food, water and shelter. It’s my belief that given our advanced omnipotent technology, we should be able to figure out an equitable distribution of food, land, resources and vaccines for everyone, while doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint in order to protect our environment and save a multitude of species with whom we share the planet from extinction.
Opus, my Blue Heeler and I often walk in Boone Park, a 28-acre urban forest in my Jacksonville neighborhood. I have been fascinated by and have painted and drawn several of these trees, but today, I was struck by how many extremely tall trees there are—mostly pines, live oaks and palms—all reaching for the SUN. They don’t appear to be in competition with each other. There seems to be space enough for all varieties of plants to grow and stretch their branches in many directions—upward, arching, crisscrossing—to mutually thrive in their environment.
I guess the trees are smarter than we humans are and will outlive us all. They instinctually get it. And, we humans are the direct beneficiary of what they provide—both scientifically and metaphorically.
In truth, no despot, government or corporation should be able to usurp that which is essential for the survival of those being infringed upon, whether by domination, annexation, murder, self-aggrandizement or for the almighty buck, Euro and ruble.
*Hamlet / William Shakespeare