Religions on the River

wp-image-1616951298jpg.jpgPollution is the river. It shouldn’t be this way, but that’s what’s become of the world. The Egyptians had the Nile. We have the Hudson River. I remember growing up and being told never to swim in it, because GE had been contaminating it for years. The Chemicals allegedly seeped into the river bed. At the time, they were discussing ‘dredging’, which inevitably occurred. The thing about it is that it had to occur. It had to be done, because nobody gives a shit about the river. It holds no significance to our lives and thus, serves only the purpose that we attach to it. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the greatest danger of human existence. It’s a problem that’s plagued mankind since the beginning of time. We can stare at the stars in wonder, contemplating the vastness of space and the universe and still maintain a certain blindness to it all, when we deny our rightful humility.

Hubris. The Egyptians had the Nile River to thank for the growth of their society. If not for the river, they would’ve receded into nothing, as is the story with so many cultures. Many cultures had nothing to sustain them and disappeared. This wasn’t to be the fate of the Egyptians. The river blessed them with the boon of tremendous wealth and prosperity. They fed from it and expanded, becoming so successful that we still teach about them in school. It’s only the successes in history that concern us. If we counted all the failures of human civilization, well… history books aren’t meant to be that long.

Our river hasn’t blessed us with much. It serves as a picturesque background for some who want a decent picture. That’s about all we have to offer. It separates us from Albany, which is sometimes nice. When I try to think of what it’s brought to the region, I must go elsewhere and that’s not what I want. I want to determine the significance of the river to our culture. The problem is… what if we’re one of those cultures that isn’t worth mentioning? What if I’m writing a bunch of nonsense about a small town that’s just gonna fold into the recesses of the bitter, sardonic matters that history has no need to discuss?

I can accept that we don’t deserve a page in the history books, but still, a slight reference might be enough to help someone out in the world. That’s all I hope for, truly and desperately. I hope that there’s someone out there feeling like his spot in the universe is not-so relevant and that maybe there’s something he’d better do than make it a bit better. I can do all this imagining right where I took this photo. I can look out to the river from a crick that runs through Riverfront Park. You can listen to the cars driving passed along the highway above, while the water makes its way from a narrow crick that splits our city into several pieces. You can consider the significance and maybe, if you think long enough, you’ll understand that the answers you seek, simply put, just aren’t there.

All praise be to the river!

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3 thoughts on “Religions on the River

  1. For a hundred years the three rivers in Pittsburgh moved barges of coal, glass and steel. No fish in the factory-heavy water then. Now that Pittsburgh transitioned, people fish in the rivers again. Maybe the Hudson won’t be so gross in 2116.

    Liked by 2 people

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