The other day a fellow electrician posted an image to his facebook page. It said: ‘my politics are simple, I’m basically against anything that kills people or the planet we live on’. I had a chuckle at this. Does he know? Has he considered the job he spends his waking passionate hours doing is something that his politics do not align with?
Im surprised its taken me this long to write an article about whats been bothering me for the entirity of my adult life, the impossible: trying to be a human alive on this planet and trying to live a pure coexistence with the planet.
But here we go.
I struggle with the dichotomy between feeling proud to be an electrician, (safely guiding electrons to their designated destinations), and feeling guilty about being an electrician, (the ways humans use and create electricity). When I think about the place I want to be in human society, I think about how I want to be useful, appreciated, respected, and fair. The choice to pursue electrical work as my everyday came from this place. But so does the self doubt about being able to achieve this at all. The words my seventh grade teacher said to me haunt me. ‘Question everything’ she said to me. Question everything.
Electricity is useful, it can save and end lives, create and destroy. But, is it so useful if it fuels the machines that create the cancer the hospitals cure? Everyone appreciates electricity and we all use it everyday when we can. But in order to hook everyone up with electricity, we need to burn fossil fuels, and dam rivers. (If you are unaware of the ecologically devastating effects burning fossil fuels and damming rivers has on the environment, stop reading and go do a quick google search right now). Even if your getting solar panels hooked up to your off grid farm, the solar panels are being made by burning coal, probably in a country with environmental regulations set so low they destroy their own land by dumping toxic water from processing mined minerals into their own waterways. How can we continue to greedily use electricity, when we will make ourselves sick just so we can watch tv?
Everyone respects someone that can fix their problems and it is not within everyone’s means to understand and have the physical ability to do electrical work. But do I want to build a substation thats entire goal is to supply power for an oil rig? I use oil, and I love me some plastic and motorized toys, so why wouldn’t I love me some oil rigs? Some pipelines? Some fracking? BECAUSE WE ARE POISONING OURSELVES FOR IT. Since everyone is lumped into the everyone category, I think it’s fair to say everyone is screwed up for wanting electricity and screwed down into being stuck here on this planet, needing, wanting, addicted to electricity.
So when does it stop? I went for it. I could’ve stayed where I was, wondering how the magic of electricity worked, but I didn’t, I set out determined to discover what the big deal was and to prove I could put the zaps in the tubes. I put my head into the books and kept my horrified opinions about environmental disaster to myself, and trucked right on into the construction industry. I could be pursuing another life where I try to live completely off grid, but why should I? I am alive and a human just like everyone else, and why should I suffer in martyrdom.
Now that I have adopted the can’t beat em’, join em’ mantra, how will I know when I’m doing the right thing? Do I just have to roll with it and stop feeling guilty for reading all night while listening to music, knowing the dam that powers my houses electricity up the road has forever altered the way fish and other animals migrate, and flooded out the people who lived and survived off the land there? Do I try distracting myself from the constant chicken bone lodged in my throat feeling that’s there to remind me of the reality that the way we are living is not sustainable with counseling and self talk teaching me I deserve all the nice things?
Tell me readers, is it just me overanalyzing anxiously, or are we truly a fuct species to be harnessing electricity at all? And does it matter if we are? Here we are, so wrapped up in if we could, that we didn’t stop to think if we should. (Yes, I just ended this article with a quote from Jurassic Park).