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Hands Across the Sand event shows the Earth is bigger than our best efforts

Hot sand did not deter, may have even sped up the procession.
Hot sand did not deter, may have even sped up the procession.

An auspicious day with an early morning lunar eclipse, Saturday rose and lengthened along Folly Beach, bringing hot muggy temperatures. Vacationing families and locals flocked to the shore with the grackles and gulls.

Hands Across the Sand at Folly Beach, June 26
Cameron Allen

Hands Across the Sand, a rally for clean energy/vigil for the ocean brought an additional 205 people trooping to the beach that day. Participants formed a hand-linked line of sunburnt sweaty flesh, a fragile length when compared to the ocean against which they stood, but a powerful statement nonetheless, stretching nearly a quarter mile from the pier. Beachgoers dipped under participants’ clasped hands to get to the ocean, or joined hands when they learned the display was simultaneously a call for responsibility and an homage to the ocean.

The event, an international gathering of 850 communities at their respective shores, was led locally, with hopeful enthusiasm, by Toni Reale of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Prior to the procession, she and other speakers called for a change in habits, raised awareness, and encouraged all to “deliver a message” to elected officials, demanding clean energy alternatives.

An astute witness of the ongoing environmental devastation caused by human bad practices must conclude, however, that the activists, politicians, environmentalists, and corporate energy hawks (coal and oil) all suffer from a delusion:

Loss of human life in the mines and rigs, loss of livelihoods, and loss of the environment supporting such livelihoods does nothing to change the destructive daily habits many Americans believe to be necessary and sufficient for life.

On the other hand, like a jenga game, the loss of the Gulf marsh and marine habitat will irreversibly change the lives of Americans, conceivably the world population, as it brings ecosystems taken for granted, actually necessary for life, crashing down.

Nothing can be said to make anyone more aware of these harsh and contradictory realities. Rhetoric is wasted. All that is left is a choice to live responsibly, which in time, will not be a choice at all.

You can nobly ask, with Mike Ardent of SurfRider Foundation, “Why are gas guzzlers still socially acceptable?” And you can point out, in his words as well, that response to this travesty will be “a question of character.” You can join Toni Reale in innovative imagining of a sustainable future. But as Bron Taylor, author of Dark Green Religion, points out, history, recent and ancient, has shown that “the overwhelming likelihood is that just and sustainable societies will remain elusive.”

“Yet,” Taylor continues, “this ought not deter us from pursuing these goals.” What speaks volumes is a public display of fragile human beings stretching in a skinny line against the backdrop of rough waves and rising heat. It looks absurd from the viewpoint of the brown pelican flying overhead. But it attests to a hopeful human spirit and an earth thankfully bigger than those best efforts.

“With a deepened sense of humility,” Taylor concludes, “we can view our participation in social [environmental] movements more as Gandhi did, as experiments in truth . . . take ourselves a bit less seriously, celebrate the everyday miracles of life, and act with greater kindness to our comrades and adversaries.” From this perspective, Hands Across the Sand represented a real, rare act of justice and sustainability.


  • Matthew Kupstas 5 years ago

    Our society suffers from an addiction to mobility. This mobility includes our personal travel, the travel of our friends/family/coworkers to us, and the travel of goods to us. Depending on this relationship to immense mobility allows us to meet our physical, social, and spiritual needs almost entirely outside of the communities we live. This lack of intimacy with one's land and people makes the destruction of land and community seem less alarming. After all, we can always get drinking water, fish, meat, vegetables, paper, cotton, wood, beauty, recreation, etc. from somewhere else. The problem is, we are running out of those "somewhere else" places.

  • Misti Burmeister 5 years ago

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Hummers become less cool - or better, intolerable. Our abundant society does, however, need an alternative place in which to get the good feeling of having the toughest car on the road, the biggest house or the largest, most expensive clothes...I wonder who will step up and help our world see the beauty that exists right inside of them...with that - and a sense of community, i can imagine the need for over abundance will unnecessary

  • Kristalyn 5 years ago

    Our society suffers not from consumption or desire for mobility but rather from imbalanced and unsustainable acts--the quantity and quality of our actions should be proportional to our needs not our wants. Our homes, transportation, food, and clothing should be the result of us creatively fulfilling the need for such. Our future rests on decisions of ethical intent, which build upon our daily needs and interactions with one another...

  • Cameron 5 years ago

    Fear drives the delusion that if one cannot keep up with the system, the system will trample them like a herd of water buffalo. What so many do not understand is that they are already being trampled. They're just able to still keep ahead of the stragglers in the herd. The System of consumption and as Matt said the addiction to mobility perpetuates the system but when we can learn to surrender the need for the mental chatter that distracts us from what we do not have and can learn to be mindful and intentional, then we can rebuild communities and give up the "need" for social accolades and relinquish the delusion that money, oil, or possessions equate to comfort and survival. At this point peace of mind and true comfort can be experienced.

  • Stan Dotson 5 years ago

    Thanks for provoking the good conversation about good and hard truths, Leslee. I'm sorry I missed the hand holding. I was somewhere on the beach, reading a hopeful book by Don Mosely, which begins with an interesting quote by Pierre Telhard de Chardin: “Someday after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire.” Maybe we don't have to wait until we master the wind and waves and tide before harnessing those better energies.

  • Mike Arendt 5 years ago

    Thanks again for the support and coverage of the event.

    BTW, my company name is actually it out the site, there's a lot of great information already even though it's still a work in progress.

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