Shared Grief: The Oil Spill is a National Family Tragedy

May 26th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Right now, we are less than 200 miles from the coast of Louisiana.  It has been our neighbor for a whole lot of years.  Culturally, it is a land of rich traditions, some unfortunate social divisions, and a unique culture.  Part of that culture grows out of its proximity to the coast.  It has supplied a wealth of rich sea food, an army of jobs and an assurance for income and tourism that has helped give this small state a claim on its place and contribution to the nation.

A result of the oil spill, another of the industries which have exploited the near Gulf coast for years, has been to demonstrate graphically how fragile our ecosystem really is.  We can’t have it both ways.  We have come to a crossroads in needing to choose between a fossil resource to power our energy needs and a paradise that may soon become barren and useless.

Living in an interdependent world, we all share in the responsibility for such a crisis.  Our conflicting needs are at war with each other.  Our unbridled appetites for both the food resources that come from off the shores of the Gulf and the oil rich resources that lie beneath the ocean can’t coexist.  That has already been proven.

So, what choices are we to make.  Those who are conscientiously attempting to live a globally sensitive existence can’t do it all alone.  Those who thumb their noses that the environment can withstand all the attacks of human greed and exploitation must offer some options for exercising more responsibility. Governments must come to its senses in creating an ethic of stewardship of our global home.  Without that we may soon find ourselves, like the oil, drifting about while  indiscriminately choosing its targets of destruction.

Families and small businesses have relied on harvesting the ocean for its rich seafood.  The tourism industry has introduced thousands of persons to the antebellum south and its rich culture.  Conflicting industries have attempted to claim their space, but find now that there is standing room only and the ocean can’t stand the deluge of indifference, disregard and lack of sensitivity.

My father stocked one of our ponds some years ago with catfish.  They turned out to be our pets and averaged about 18 inches in length.  They served as entertainment, particularly when children visited.   We would make the trek to the pond with buckets of food, ready to attract the fish to the shore for their evening feedings.  It was always a special treat.  Sometime along the way, someone chose to steal the joy of such occasions.  Without permission, they went on their own to the pond and fished until there were no more remaining in the pond.

One or more selfish individuals chose to reorder the scheme of things and to eliminate the pleasure and treasure such a small spot offered those of us who could go there to feed and watch the fish.

This microcosm is much like what we are dealing with off the Gulf Coast today.  It is a national family tragedy.  Perhaps some corrections can be made. Perhaps it is too late.  Our little pond can be restocked.  But the ocean and all its marvelous creative energy may be unable to change the course of what interlopers have done.



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