Healing the streams of our lives

A community of humans is like any other ecosystem.

In the streams of Vashon-Maury Island, researchers often use the health of bugs to gauge the health of the overall ecosystem.

Where our waterways cannot handle the pollutant chemicals of stormwater runoff, bugs and fish are often the first to show signs of stress. And their struggles to survive are reflected in all of the birds, bears and humans that eat them.

In other words, all living things here are connected, and the illness of one harms the health of the others. And we ignore the health of any organism at our collective peril.

So it is for us. A community of humans is like any other ecosystem — when some of us are sick, the rest of us get hurt, too. And our metaphorical streams still need healing, too.

That’s why this edition of The Beachcomber features several stories about our community — including our enduring quests to deliver on the promise of freedom and justice to Americans of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexualities (a promise often made and often undelivered); our conversations about what we, as islanders, owe each other; and the moments of beauty and joy we can find when we stop to admire the world and do our part to protect it.

When we feel threatened, disrespected or ignored, that pain harms the body and soul. But those harms, like copper and arsenic in the water, flow down the stream and sicken everyone else, too.

In the end, if we don’t take action, even the humans pouring those toxins into the water are poisoned, too. No one is safe from the ills of prejudice and inequality.

What do we do? Like the Vashon Nature Center, we study the reasons our streams — both literal and figurative — are improving or worsening. And we act on those findings.

So we thank Vashon’s Juneteenth Commission and the island’s LGBTQ+ activists for working to heal our streams of social life. In light of Pride Month — which we celebrate in a special section in this week’s paper — we call on all islanders to think about how they can apply their skills and passions to healing those streams, both on Vashon and across the world.

We dare to dream that pristine streams will one day bring great salmon runs back to the island and Puget Sound as a whole, heralding a comeback story for our Southern Resident Orcas. And we dare to dream that our human streams will overflow with love and mutual understanding, too.