Friday, June 18, 2010

Oil on the Brain

I am going to take a bit of a divergence here, but not really, because it is something that has been weighing heavily on my brain for weeks. Let’s talk about the Horizon oil gusher. It is misleading, I believe, to even call it a measly “spill.” A hellish, nightmarish flood is more like it.

Last week, I was ready to drive to Louisiana and volunteer. As an animal lover, the pictures of the oil covered birds, turtles, fish, even crabs made me cry and hurt my heart. In addition, the stories of whole industries, communities, and ecosystems suffering utter devastation is just tragic and hard to even fathom.

In my typical fashion, but not as bad as I used to be mind you, I hyper focused on all this – clicking on every Facebook link and watching every YouTube video I could find. Too much. I felt totally outraged, overwhelmed, and helpless.

In an email to a friend, who works for a solar energy company BTW, I vented. Along with a bunch of other stuff, they responded with:

I appreciate your anger and frustration over the oil spill. I feel however, that your reaction stops just where most of us do, at the feeling of helplessness and frustration we experience from the ugly consequences of decisions we don't recognize as our own. I don't feel you are acknowledging your part in this.

What are YOU doing to stop the oil spill?

I'm not asking you to stop it directly. This is a systemic situation that is a result of my, your, our dependence on oil. There's no way we can all switch to renewable energy tomorrow, and we can't just turn off our cars today either. So you, I, we use oil to create refined products like gasoline, plastic etc.

You, I, we consume this stuff without caring where it comes from or how much we use or how inconvenient or dangerous it is to get it when we have already consumed all the easily extractable resources of it domestically. So, we resort to drilling a mile or two deep in the ocean to slake our black thirst so we can maintain our convenient lifestyles. We fly across the country and drive cars that get 20 mpg instead of 40 mpg and don't give a damn about CAFE standards, and vote for people who are even less conscious about this than we are to make decisions for us about environmental and energy policy.

And you know what? They are right. Instead of reacting defensively, their words made me feel empowered and brought me a sense of peace. There is something I can do besides going down to the Gulf and putting on one of those white suits. There is something we all can do in our own lives. We can start living more consciously and make reducing our dependence on oil a factor in the decisions we make every day.

Other headlines are already taking prime position. It is becoming old news. I was floored to find out from my sons that this was not even a topic of discussion in the halls or the classrooms of their schools. This is going to effect their and all of our futures.

In a small, good way as well as the obvious, huge bad, I wonder? I hope. It is our decision. If anything good is to come of this, we have to allow it to teach us and change us. I know I am going to. We can blame BP or Obama and look to them to fix this mess, but the solution has to start with each of us.

The earth produces all things and receives all again. ~ Spanish Proverb

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