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Formosa Plastics Hunger Strike: Day 14

by Dan Le

Dan is a member of the San Antonio Bay Waterkeeper Team, and is covering for Diane at the Formosa Plastics Texas plant while she is away on a speaking engagement at Colby College in Maine. Click here for more information on how to support the strike.

Even more rain today. The ditch filled with rainwater.

I forgot to mention yesterday what it’s like to ride in Diane’s old trusted red truck. The steering wheel feels fluid and loose, the driver’s seat is forever reclined, and the speed limit might say 60 miles an hour, but feels more like 45. Yesterday, while driving over the bridge that connects Point Comfort and Lavaca in “Ol’ Red”, I broke out into laughter because it felt just a little dangerous: no shoulders on the road, pretty good gusts of wind, and cars whizzing by kicking up water all over the windshield. But, it was fun! Like when I was a kid and my dad would put me up on his shoulders and pretended to be a bucking horse. Yee-haw!

I spoke with my partner yesterday and filled her in on the day, then suggested she watch the episode on Point Comfort from the “Dirty Money” series on Netflix, which is a pretty good intro to Formosa Plastics’ history of appalling practices. I also watched it again myself, this time recognizing more of the names and faces, feeling more connected with all of it now that I’m on the Waterkeeper team, and it feels good. Really good. I also got a real kick out of this funny scene where Diane’s trying to fix the window on Ol’ Red. I won’t spoil it, you’ll just have to watch it.

This morning, I climbed back into Ol’ Red, and while driving back to the Formosa plant, I was thinking that everyone must have a heart, everyone must have a conscience, right? I’d like to believe so. But maybe it’s greed and anger that just get the best of people. In this case, with Formosa Plastics, it’s easy to see that it’s greed. I mean, I can be just as guilty. Just ask my partner what happens when you put a pizza or a jar of cookies in front of me. I’ll eat all of it! But that’s just what it is, if you leave it there for the taking, I’m going to consume all of it! But with my partner there, she keeps me in check.

So that’s our job as citizens is to push hard for restriction and regulation, otherwise we leave it all for the taking. Yes, it’s an uphill battle because greed is a hell of a monster, a big dirty one, and it runs deep through our government institutions, our government itself, these corporations, and through all of us. It’s part of being human, I’ll argue. We can’t stop it, it will always be there, but we can limit what it can consume. On an individual level, we can cultivate heart, compassion, conscientiousness, and all of that can temper greed. But with big entities, there’s so many individuals, so many forces at play, we can’t count on them to self-regulate, nor regulate each other. And so with the world as it is right now, it’s up to us. We have to stand up with the wisdom of non-violence and out of compassion to ultimately protect each other from harm. It’s up to us, we don’t have a choice, do we? We have to at least try, right? I guess we could just sit back and witness the suffering, turn a blind eye and pretend everything’s okay, but that doesn’t seem right, does it?

As for the non-believers, those who think we’re doomed and all such action is futile, I point to all those in history that stood up and started movements against greed, hatred, ignorance. All those movements started with someone standing up to say “That’s enough.”

Day 14, wind, rain, grey skies at the Formosa plant

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