One of the most notable experiences of West Virginia was our visit to the mountaintop removal site. As a group we had the privilege of meeting Paul, an inspiring man who works to protect the mountains from the greedy claws of the coal industry. Paul discussed his conspiracy theory with us about the truth that we are all connected – nature and humanity are one in the same. Due to this connection, we as humans are called to have courage and fight to protect those who cannot defend themselves. As a group we were then taken to the site and shown the sheer devastation that coal mining has caused to the second most bio-diverse place in the world. The once beautiful mountain now is incapable of sustaining life and its ruins are covered in mere gravel to hide the sins of humanity. The vivid image is a reminder of the destruction we humans are inflicting on our planet and how irreversible that destruction is. If we continue down this path of death, we too will become victims of our own foolish blunders. Even in all this sadness, Paul reminded us that all hope is not lost, our time is coming, and one day we can stop the devastation and perpetuate peace and love in the world around us. All it takes is a little bit of courage.
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