4685651955_630cba761c_oI am going to make 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 experiencing complete devastation is tragic and hard for me to even fathom.

Despite knowing better, I hyper focused on the events clicking on every Facebook link and watching every YouTube video I came across until I ended up feeling outraged, overwhelmed, and helpless. (See blog:  10 Ways To Stay Positive In a Negative World)

In an email to a friend, who works for a solar energy company I vented my frustrations. Along with other wise words, 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’re 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 to help clean up. There is something we all can do every day in our own lives. We can start living more consciously and make reducing our dependence on oil a priority in the decisions we make every day.

Other headlines are already taking prime position as the oil spill becomes old news. I was floored to find out from my sons that this was not even a topic of discussion in the halls or classrooms of their school. This type of environmental disaster is going to effect their and all of our futures.

Can this catastrophe have meaning in a small, good way as well as the obvious, huge bad, I wonder? I hope it can. It’s really our decision. If anything good is to come of this, we have to allow the event to teach and change us. I know I’m 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

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27530874@N03/

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