Jason Lawrence Bell
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03-18-19 Canary In A Coal Mine


‘What a clever thing to do! I’m surprised no one has thought of that before,’ whispered a woman standing in the crowd of observers at the County Fair. On the small stage stood a man in a brightly colored overcoat and hat. His talent was telling stories. He would take a long look at a volunteer from the crowd and immediately created a story. The stories were often humorous or sentimental but were fascinating and the crowds were entertained.

Dr. McSteam was the name he called himself. Today happened to be St. Patrick’s Day and as a true Irishman he celebrated with drink. However, he had a little too much drink and he knew it. He had performed his act for so many years and he thought he could fake his way through it and no one would know the difference. So, after a brief introduction Dr. McSteam invited the first volunteer to the stage.

Up walked a middle-aged overweight woman dressed in blue jeans and T-shirt. Her clothes were two sizes too small and there were bulges everywhere. After a long look, McSteam felt his eyes blur and once they cleared, he saw the women differently. He saw the thin attractive version that was youthful and full of hopes and dreams. McSteam asked the woman her name. She simply said ‘Sammi’ with an I’.

McSteam began this story. ‘this a story of Samantha who was born with a tender heart and love for life.’ Sammi was thinking she hadn’t been called Samantha for years, how did he know? He continued ‘people like Samantha are gifts from God to our hard-judgmental world. She shows us that we all can be better. Samantha’s pure spirit and ability to see good through a confusing world is a true gift to those who are lucky to know her.’ Sammi was tearing up inside and was doing her best to stand calm. McSteam continued, ‘but the sweet natured people like Samantha have become our Canary’s In The Coal Mine. They reflect back to us a true vision of our society. Like coal mine canaries who warn the miners of danger, the Sammi’s among us display the unhealthy conditions we live with every day. We have watched our Samantha’s change from energetic vivacious free spirits to over indulged directionless sad confused people.’ Sammi could no long stand and took a seat and sat in complete silence.

McSteam continued, ‘we desperately try to fill the huge void where our passions and needs for love and connection have shriveled. Now they’re being replaced with material toys and huge plates of food and drink and drugs. Our bodies have become distorted. The void is never filled because we won’t give ourselves what we truly need. We need a society that values goodness over business success, and friends and family who appreciate our true selves and not our facades that we have created to hide behind. Our condition shows us our dishonesty. We refuse to see our truth. Sammi is our truth, Samantha is our way home.’

Dr. McSteam was finished with this story and looked around the crowd. Sammi walked over to him and thank him, but looked stunned and walked off alone. But the crowd had changed. The Officials of the fair were standing on the side motioning McSteam over. The crowd was emotional and divided. Some saw truth in McSteam words but others saw insults and were acting angry. They thought McSteam ‘called Sammi a dead bird who is fat and ugly. They were getting loud.

The Officials stopped Dr McSteam’s show and sternly ordered him off the grounds. To Dr. McSteam this had never happened before and he started packing up. But he felt surprisingly wonderful inside. And the sensation of balance and harmony flooded his senses. He knew he spoke the truth, but apparently the truth is not welcome, yet. Peace***