A Living Planet

I watch as the custodian mops the floor in front of an exhibit called ‘The Living Planet’. There are plastic cups and candy wrappers littered all over and the old man shifts them around as he mops. He doesn’t notice them and I’m not about to point them out to him.
Why make his job harder? He’s probably done it for years, I think. Going home to a lousy wife, lousy microwave dinners. Who can blame him for not taking his job more seriously? I can’t, that’s for sure.
Its no like I’m putting all into my job. Why should I? I didn’t want this. Yah, that’s why I went to college for four years, to give guided tours in this sorry excuse for a museum.
My face is still cramped from the cheery smile its been forced into for the past three and a half hours. My throat raw from trying to explain to a bunch of kids why the earth is so great.
The kids just talk over me, occasionally calling me names. The teacher’s off somewhere, uncaring.
It’s not important. The information is dated anyway.
I want to shout that it’s all their fault. I don’t. Corporate wouldn’t like it and they’re already talking about layoffs.
I’m between tours right now so I take the opportunity to sneak a quick smoke. I lean against a pillar, inhaling the sweet taste of tobacco.
I look out over the slum filled valley that was once lake Michigan. I don’t keep up on the news but I have heard they’ve found a planet in some distant system. A living planet, they say, like ours.
I want to think we won’t screw that one up, but I know better.
I stub out my cigarette and flick it into a patch of grass. In the early twenty first century, the subject of my worthless major, carbon emissions had dropped. It was the height of the conservationist movement. People said we had done it, saved the planet, ended global warming.
Just like with saving the whales, people cared for one glorious moment, and then forgot.
Now wonder the kids don’t pay attention to me talk about nature and mother earth. They’ve seen neither and aren’t educated enough to care.
Maybe if our attention span could improve we could take care of this new planet. But kids today are taught that the only thing that matters is pleasure. They pursue pleasure at the cost of happiness, deadening their souls.
We have sought to sever our connection with mother earth. Used her up. I know I don’t have the whole picture. But I know that our inability to live in harmony with our planet has cost us. Billions are starving and health problems are rampant in this toxic environment we have created. We have squandered our great inheritance.
I go back inside. A group of children wait impatiently for their tour of a dying museum in a dead city on a dead planet.

A Living Planet


Joined March 2008

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Artist's Description

A brief glimpse of a possible future.

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