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miércoles, mayo 12, 2010

Taking Care Of Old Mom Earth

The oddest thoughts.

If I lived in suburbia and my dog ran out and pooped on my neighbor's lawn, my neighbor would be angry. My neighbor might tell me to clean it up. S/he'd be much angrier if I spilled a truck full of chemical fertilizer or garbage on the lawn, something that would be hard to clean up and looked and smelled bad.

I live in the country. I go for a walk in the fields with my dog. On my own land I come upon an enormous horse poop. Later, I see my neighbor and ask if she's been riding on my land. I shake my head, no, at her. She says she'll clean it up. I think, well, what if she had left instead a few leaking barrels of hazardous material or poison. What if she left behind baited leg traps so my dog and pets could be injured. I'd be much angrier.

If BP were pouring its oil on my roof, or in my yard, or in my street, I'd tell them to cut it out and to clean it up. I'd probably also get angry at BP. I would plot ways of having my sweet revenge on them for making a mess of my house, or land, or street. I'd think about all of the demonstrations, lawsuits, administrative actions, and so on I could instigate against them.

But BP's not pouring it directly on me, or my family, or my house, or my land. No. They're spilling it, lots and lots of it in the Gulf of Mexico. I notice that I'm less angry about this than if they were filling my basement with crude oil. I notice that nobody's really picketing BP gas stations or their corporate headquarters. I notice that people are not screaming at them to cut it out and clear it up. I notice that people are not asking that they be nationalized or seized or confiscated. I notice that their gas stations are still open for business. Same for their refineries. I notice that their bank accounts still work, their stock is still traded. I notice business as usual. I notice that I can turn away from them and do other things. Like go to work. And sleep.

Why is that? Is it because the Gulf of Mexico isn't my physical backyard? Or my fields? Or my street? Is it because it seems farther away from me? Is it because we're just beginning to see the devastation that this will bring to the Gulf Coast? Is it because we don't believe that it is destroying the Gulf and our planet? Is it because the oil isn't going directly into my basement and disrupting my life at this second and befouling my every breath and making me sick?

I like to think that we humans are stewards for mother earth. That we take care of her. It's like the old song, "The earth is my mother/I must take care of her." I like to think that we belong to the earth, that she does not belong to us. I like to think that our precious, small, blue planet will support and nurture us and give us all we need. And all she needs in exchange is that we take good care of her. But I don't think we're taking good car of her right now. I think we're destroying her. It's not just the oil in the Gulf, not by a long shot, but the oil in the Gulf is the latest, quickest, more egregious example of the failure of our husbandry.

If somebody insulted my mother, or harmed her, I would be outraged. I would protect her. I would do whatever was in my power to keep her from harm. Goodness. Some people will actually fight if somebody even says something bad about their mother. Well, this is worse than saying something bad. This is actually harming, defiling, injuring the planet and the creatures that live on it. Here we are, our mother is actually being harmed. And somehow, somehow we sit idly by.

We think about the situation. While we think, the oil is still flowing. Out of control. We hope that some new contraption will stop the leak. The last one didn't but maybe this one will. Or the well that arrives in July. We hope the damage won't be too great. We hope BP will stop the damage, the spill. We hope the government will get involved. We sit on our hands. We stare at the ceiling. We hope this isn't the beginning of our planet's death rattle.

And, of course, we make arguments about policies we will need in the future. And we talk about how it's our fault that there is a gigantic oil leak in the sea because we're addicted to oil. We blame ourselves in some regard for this rapidly expanding injury to our planet. But we still stare at the ceiling. And we hope this isn't the beginning of our planet's death rattle. And that something will save our pearly blue planet from harm.

The truth, I'm afraid, is that we're in a trance. We've been drugged by darts. We're immobilized. We sit and stare. We think. We talk. We type. But until the end we won't do anything to respond to this, to embody our fury, to protect ourselves and our planet and our oceans. We'll wait and hope that the damage stops. And we'll talk about our planet's remarkable capacity to stabilize itself and heal itself and repair itself.

I wonder. Are we trying to kill our planet? Is this a slow form of attempted planetary suicide?

Why are we letting our mother down like this? Where is our gratitude for all she does for us?

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