by George Pletnikoff
June 30, 2007
Well, I have arrived! That is about all I can say about that. I have arrived at a place in my life where "support" is everywhere. Where people from all walks of life, all over the world, everywhere have come together on this beautiful ship, the Esperanza (Hope) to support. To support the work many of us have worked so hard to develop, hopes we have to see peace and growth toward a healthier way of living. Incredabily, I am at a loss of words to describe my feelings, feelings I immediately shared with my friend, my Tai yox, the very next day upon my arrival in Homer.
About two hours after I got myself settled on this ship, I called my wife, Leonella, who is in Anchorage to let her know I am safe and happy. We spoke about things couples do when separated. Then she said something to me which I will never forget. After describing the ship, the people, beautiful Homer, (in our other life we lived right accross the bay from Homer in a small village called Seldovia where I served as the pastor for six years, so this is like home) she said: "Now work hard!" And that blew me! I immediately marveled about the depth of love my wife holds, not only for me, but also for our people and our environment.
We began our work, getting to know one another, getting to know the ship and in some ways getting to know our roles in this network of support. And as always happens to me, I marveled at what we are doing. Greenpeace is indeed the "people’s organization" I thought. For surly we are going to meet, hear, learn and speak with people, ancient peoples. We are going to a small village, Port Graham, again one of my parishes back in the day. I thought about the many baptisms I had participated in, weddings, feasts, fasts, and funerals. I remember one Sunday moring in particular, when I had arrived early on a small skiff to celebrate with the people. I arrived and the entire community, dressed in their Sunday’s best, men, women, children, all smiles and joy, carrying a cross, banners, flowers, to meet me and escort me to the Church. They were singing and guiding me. A welcome usually reserved for our Bishop. But they were doing it for me. Support. And I am returning. Thank you Tai yox.
Well, we had three wonderful days here in Homer. We did interviews, talks, and open ships with the community. We heard; "thank you for the work you are doing." We listened to questions, heard answers, gave answers. The local paper came. The local radio station came. The mothers, fathers and their children hand in hand, walked our gang plank. Smiles, buttons and stickers in hand. And we smiled, at ourselves and one another. Support.
Amongst all of this, I kept wondering and thinking. And I think I began to understand. As there is no doubt about post tramatic stress syndrome, a real disorder which impacts many of our people, and peoples all over the world, I wondered. Is there such a thing as post environmental stress trauma (PEST)? Do we, especially people who are totally dependent upon the health of the environment, nature, suffer from a daily watch as she suffers? Is this, can this be real? When we view nature, visit our parks, reserves, participate in ecotourism activities, and then return home, do we remove our intimacy with nature? And in that separation, do we feel misplaced? Lost? Nature now becoming our zoo? And what about the years of stress our people feel who live a subsistence lifestyle, who are intimate with nature? Is PEST true? I think so. Exxon Valdez comes to mind.
We heard a lot from the people in Homer about our marine cultural heritage zones. This concept, this idea, this goal, said them all, has got to work! It is good. It is time. It is needed. And my wife said, now work hard.
Tai yox is right. He simply said yes. For that I am thankful, and for much, much more. The Esperanza is here to support. The fullness of nature is waiting. The whales are resting. The birds are in a glide and hover, and best of all, the people are excited. To the community and people, wonderful people of Homer, a big hug and thank you to you. Your warmth and prayers, good wishes makes me want more than anything else to follow the demand of my wonderful wife. At least for the day, for now, PEST is not a problem for us, and prayerfully, for all of us on the planet we call Earth.
Until next time.