On a mission to stop coal companies from destroying our mountains, Larry Gibson never took a day off in over thirty years because he wasn’t willing to risk missing that one young person who could make a difference for his people in Appalachia. He was undeniably passionate about this cause, but there was something else about him that was special. In a recent article, Rory McIlmoil, a West Virginia-based coal and clean energy analyst testified, “No matter who you were, or which side you were on, Larry’s smile, his laugh, and his compassion would remind you that we’re all human and that we should care and fight for each other.”
This time last year, I was preoccupied with my personal mission to find something to be passionate about as if I would only then be able to start doing something. Maybe that is not how it works.
At the Millenium Campus Conference last weekend, Akhtar Badshah suggested that “having a passion” is overrated; societal benefits come from our hard work, our ethos, our drive, and most importantly compassion. We learn about social justice issues right and left, but realistically can’t take up every cause as our own, right? Some of these issues pull at my heart strings more than others, but I still care about the human dignity in everything from mountain top removal to immigration to health care and education. This can be overwhelming, even heartbreaking. What can we do? I think the compassion part comes in when we show up to learn about and recognize the interconnectedness of social problems, and then find ways to support each other in our variety of causes.
In loving memory of the Keeper of the Mountain.