Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bound and Determined

Luke Gullberg. Katie Nolan. Anthony Vietti.

All three went climbing on the Reid Glacier route up Mt. Hood last week. Luke was found dead on Friday. He died of hypothermia although his body bore signs of some kind of tumble. Katie and Anthony have not been found. Katie and Anthony may have been injured in a fall and stayed on the mountain in a hastily dug snow cave while Luke attempted to go for help. Or they may both have been killed in whatever went wrong.

All three are wonderful young people, people of faith, people of service to their fellow human beings. If any had been asked before the climb if they would consider doing anything to bring grief and sadness to their families, they would have been shocked by the thought. It would have been inconceivable to them.

They elected to go on a winter techincal climb of Mt. Hood without a mountain locator unit that rents for $5.00. They elected to go during the shortest daylight hours of the year. They elected to go when weather systems that can last weeks move in. They elected to go in a weather window that left no margin for error at the end, should anything go wrong. They were bound and determined to have a good experience despite the risks and the danger. "How could they?" we ask.

This is the decision-making of wonderful and level-headed people who are still in their 20's. We stand aghast and ask how. We would never do that. Or would we? Are we on a daily basis?

Nations of the world are meeting in Copenhagen to seek a way forward in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming that is caused and/or accelerated by human activity. I am not at all hopeful that anything remotely close to positive, timely action will result. We will posture, pose, pretend and obfuscate. We will do so because as short-sighted, selfish people we will, whatever else we tell ourselves, be more concerned about short-term dollars than long-term health of our planet and our children. In terms of promoting and supporting life, those dollars that dazzle our imaginations may prove to be far less negotiable than the broken sand dollar in the picture.

Collectively as a species, we will exhibit no better decision-making than the 20-somethings above. We are bound and determined to believe that the totally interactive climate system of earth can somehow defy physics and be radically altered by us to no effect. We are bound and determined to believe that if there is a problem there will be some magic escape plan that pops up in the future. We are bound and determined that the biggest challenge to ever confront humanity can be solved at no cost to us and no change in our way of life today. That's my unfortunate conclusion based on our totally inadequate action to date.

Katie and Anthony could still be found alive, but the chances are less than 1%. They may never be found. Their lives hung in the balance of decision-making that they would not have believed came at such a price.

Do you think that we 21st-century humans have any more of a clue of the costs of our decision-making today than the wonderful young climbers?

Pray for wisdom and divine guidance in all ways for our flawed human actions and decisions. Multiply the grief and anxiety of the families of Luke, Katie and Anthony by millions as you do. Pray for life. No less is at stake.

Pray without ceasing.


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