from nature to destruction— a timetravel to no where.
i don’t know if you all feel this way sometimes but sometimes, it feels as though i am transported to a time that i never existed in, a time when the humyn manipulation of nature wasn’t synonymous with catastrophe. densely packed forests where they should be, desolate deserts where they should be, bees, rhinos and rivers where they should be. the time-body warp is circa pre-colonial. it’s an epic feeling that lasts but a few breaths. once i return to the present state of of neocolonialism and capitalism, the environment, creatures and humyns are no longer the way they should be.
while touring the devastation of the giga industrial projects of tar sands running wild, glimpsing the roots of the keystone xl pipeline, i was stuck in the strangeness of being transported to a different time without really going anywhere at all. this wasn’t another time long ago nor was this some dystopian future that has yet to come to fruition, it is the apocalyptic circumstances of now.
it is a piece of land the size of florida slated for decimation, to be turned uninhabitable for the advances of no one but the profit of the dirtiest crude oil corporations like kinder morgan, chevron, imperial oil (really?), enbridge, transcanada and syncrude.
it is a scheme for 2,000 miles of pipeline tunneling through alberta, canada, to the gulf coast of texas — pipeline funneling the heaviest, stickiest and most viscous oil on earth through tubes so laughably flimsy that oil spills are the relentless norm.
it is the first nations communities like the athabasca chipewyan first nation, the beaver lake cree first nation, the mikisew cree first nation, the chipewywan prairie dene first nation, metis starved off their land because they can’t fish, hunt or drink that which soaks in poison.
there shouldn’t be a place on earth that reeks of life gone putrid. this isn’t the way it should be.
but as buddhists, what should be is less important than what is. as buddhists, our practice helps us to try to let go of our expectations, so that we can witness our present conditions.
witnessing becomes our call to action.
“the scientists tell us nothing’s wrong but
we’ve been here, we’ve seen our land turn
from nature to destruction.”
—peckachase, alexander tribe cree first nation
[photography by aneeta mitha/ iji photography]
Thanks to the support of readers like you, photographer and writer aneeta mitha traveled for nine days to Alberta, Canada to join the indigenous-led Tar Sands Healing Walk, Buddhist-led Compassionate Earth Walk, and other organizing to stop tar sands extraction and the Keystone XL Pipeline. she is a brown queer of desi settler diaspora living in oakland where she develops intimacy with her world through meditation, photography and political organizing.
You can see more of aneeta’s stories from Alberta here.