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In Winnsboro, they would just like a little power to the humans

By Phil Latham Editor & Publisher
Oct. 6, 2012 at 10 p.m.

<em>Winnsboro (AP) - Actress Daryl Hannah of "Splash" fame was arrested in northeast Texas on Thursday, along with a 78-year-old landowner as the pair protested an oil pipeline designed to bring crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast</em>.


As it so happens, I personally know some of the people who are protesting the construction of the TransCanada pipeline across East Texas. Not Ms. Hannah, of course, and not Eleanor Fairchild, the near-octogenarian landowner they put in the Wood County hoosegow.

But I do know David Hightower who lives in a home that sits about 200 feet from where the pipeline is being laid. It will come closer still to his grapevines and small peach orchard, both of which are designed to help Hightower earn a living off the land.

Perhaps you think of Daryl Hannah as one of those movie star nuts who is just a rabble-rouser going where people don't want her to be. As you wish, but I'm guessing there are plenty of folks in Wood County, and the adjoining Franklin County where Hightower lives, who would like to stand up cheer about right now.

The protestors are not goofballs and very few of them could be classified as liberals. They spend Sundays sitting in pews in the Baptist, Methodist or Christian church in Winnsboro. They work hard and care for their neighbors the way the Bible says you are supposed to.

They just don't want their land torn up and a pipeline running beneath where they plant the food they will eat. When you ponder this, it seems pretty reasonable to me.

Perhaps it doesn't to you. Maybe you think that progress cannot, should not, ever be stopped; that what happens to people as individuals does not matter. Low gas prices must be maintained, by golly. The collective is what is important, not the individual.

Oops, seems like we've wandered into a little Marxian theory here. I am hoping you don't really believe that. When Karl Marx talked about giving the power to "the people" he meant that to signify a single group.

What our founders wanted to do was give power to persons, individuals, and that is really what the people in Winnsboro are asking for.

Unfortunately, I'm fairly sure they aren't going to get that. TransCanada, the pipeline company that is building this project, has its own bulldog security force and as Ms. Hannah and Ms. Fairchild found out, they are not to be messed with. No matter what anyone tells you, corporations are not people, or they aren't humans, anyway.

Humans are those like David Hightower, who spent his career serving all over the world in the United States Air Force. Humans like Hightower serve as the Worshipful Master at the local Masonic Lodge more than once. Humans hand out scholarships to students graduating from Winnsboro High School. Humans raise crops to live on, then wind up giving almost all of it away because giving it makes them feel better than selling it. Humans raise money for the high school band by spending Friday nights cooking funnel cakes. Humans wear overalls, check the rain gauge after every sprinkle and mark it down in a book. Humans care about the land they live on, love it actually, nurture it with just about every ounce of their energy. To humans like David Hightower, you see, the land means more than numbers on a property survey, it is family history and a way of life.

Corporations dig trenches and lay pipelines, never considering what might have been there before they came.

This is progress, yes, but sometimes progress can make you downright sick to your stomach.



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