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The narrative voice on the local public radio station said: " A conservative commentator/TV evangelist claimed the damage to the Washington Monument from this week's earthquake was a sign that God is displeased with government and how we are running our society.  A liberal commentator asked how this guy interpreted the damage to the National Cathedral.  People post these things on Facebook asserting the weather and earth movement events are messages from God, but only to the side they oppose.  However, the effects are on everyone. It seems the speakers in these cases all expect they, of all people, will be Lott and his family escaping from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah."

A listener telephoned angrily and cussed him out calling his statement sacrilege and told him he was going to hell.  Someone else called, a bit more polite, but shrill, and said essentially the same thing.  The third call came in.  The announcer hated that he had to reach out and pick up that call, but, as it was his job, he did.  The caller spoke in a slow, warm bass voice.  It was a reassuring sound and the announcer took a deep breath, relieved to be hearing something said, at least, in pleasant tones.

"Fred, I was just listening to your show.  I was wondering if you think this is really like Sodom and Gomorrah?  I mean, do you think these natural events are signs from God?"

"Well," Fred answered slowly.  "I just don't know.  It seems that God is smart enough to make the message clarify the crime if He is concerned about human behavior.  So, if I am right about that, if I take these events as a spiritual message, I guess it has something to do with how we care for the earth, the air, and water."

"If that were so, what would you, Fred Tenderhooks, want to say about that?"

"Good question.  I would not want to say what people have been saying to me, shouting 'someone is going to hell and it isn't me.'  I know I wouldn't want to say it isn't true.  However, it seems when people speak up like Michael Moore and Al Gore, it doesn't change much of anything.  It feels to me as if this really is a Sodom and Gomorrah event and I feel pretty helpless about my part in it."

"What would you say is your part in it?"

"I heat my home with natural gas that is brought to my home through the use of fracking.  I drive an automobile powered by oil.  Need I go on?  I don't expect to be Lott or his family.  I am as guilty as the next guy.  I just wish someone could save the trees and insects and animals that have nothing to do with any of this.  There are two pecan trees behind my house, one in each of two neighbor's back yards.  One neighbor cut all the branches off because she didn't like the nuts.  She would have cut it down completely, but it cost too much.  The other neighbor keeps setting fires under the other tree and threatens to cut it down.  These are majestic old trees.  They don't deserve this treatment.  They and the squirrels in them deserve to be Lott and his family."

"Well, Fred, I wish you would say that on the air.  It has been nice chatting with you."
The caller hung up.

Fred turned to the microphone.  The next song was finished and it was time for him to talk.  So he did it.  He talked about the trees in the neighbor's yards.  Soon, he received another call.  It was his next door neighbor. 

"Fred, are you really talking about the trees behind us?  I agree with you.  Tomorrow, you will have something to report."

Fred finished his shift and went home.  In the morning, 200 people with signs were marching up and down the street in front of the houses with the pecan trees carrying signs that said "these people are unfair to trees," and "save our pecan trees."  Fred could see the neighbors peeking out through the blinds. 

His next door neighbor walked up to Fred and asked "well, what do you think?"

"I am amazed! How long do you think it will take?"

"I guess we'll see."

The protesters marched day and night for two weeks before the neighbors put "for sale" signs in their front yards.  In response, the numbers of protestors dwindled.  They didn't stop, though, until there were sold signs on both houses., and the buyers had spoken to the protesters promising to take good care of the trees.

After Fred announced these results on his radio show and thanked the protestors, he played a conservation song.

The phone rang.  "Thanks, Fred," said the same Bass voice.  You shall be rewarded for your kind act."

Wondering who the voice was, Fred headed home from work.  Sitting on the back deck, looking at the pecan trees, he heard a low hum.  It got slowly louder.  He recognized the recitation of Joyce Kilmer's poem "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree..." followed by "You are our sunshine." The tree leaves shook and Fred heard a deep warm laugh.  "hmmm,thought Fred. That voice sounds familiar.

© Copyright 2011 Louise Wiggins is Elizabeth (howellbard3 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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