An earthquake shakes countries and we respond en masse. Tsunamis come ashore and are followed by waves of dollars and volunteers and government aide. Our planet’s capacity to reach out is sometimes overwhelming. At other times it is strikingly absent.
I have spent the last few days on the water with sea life and river life and people whose lives move with the tides. We slowed the boat on our way to Daufuskie Island to let a pod of Bottlenose dolphin play. They jumped and danced and wrestled and glided all at the same time. They put on quite a show before smiling and moving down river. The pelicans moved stealthily in for the evening catch under a rising full moon. They perched on the buoys and the abandoned pilings and watched the boats and birds and waited the next course. The rhythm of the coastal breezes moved the marsh grass in wave after graceful wave.
I tried to imagine a dark death, like a plague, moving slowly in to suffocate all of this precious life. I visualized our Pelican and Seagull friends diving and unable to return to flight from the thick coating on their wings. I saw the deep greens and browns of the marshland turning black and dying and taking with it the lives of the birds and the fish who live and thrive there. I saw the banks of the river at low tide coated in this mess. The crab no longer able to run and burrow along the mud and the rocks.
Months ago the headlines were full of the response of humanity to other disasters. Where is that same humanity when the disaster is one of corporate doing? Does this make it any less a candidate for attention and response from those beyond the boardroom? Did other oil companies rush in with their best minds and resources? Where has been the humanitarian response from corporate and government organizations alike? Is it because many of the victims are not…human? Reality is that the livelihood of so many is threatened by this catastrophe. What is getting much less attention is that LIFE is at stake here too. An entire ecosystem is threatened and dying.
So, I grudgingly turn on the news. Instead of finding headlines filled with national and international response, I see a BP executive spending most of his air time answering to prosecutors from every possible group, agency, district, and agenda. The podium has no lineup of those who have come to a rescue. He stands alone. This isn’t about feeling sorry for a corporate exec. It is absolute sadness over the lack of collective good to save lives. To save livelihoods. To fix a terrible and accidental wrong that not only claimed eleven brave men, but is claiming more life with each creeping inch.
I’ve never boarded a Greenpeace boat. I don’t have a Save The Spotted Owl bumper sticker on my Jeep. I’ve never stood defiantly between a bulldozer and a Redwood. At one point I think I was even critical of these types as if they were all lunatics. But in these middle years I find myself drawn away from concrete and into the woods; from the airports and to the river; from the office and to the forest. So, here I was at dawn this morning, rowing my kayak down Richardson Creek along the marsh and feeling an even stronger conviction to preserve and protect this glorious life around me.
I am a lover of life. All kinds. Tonight I become what I once judged. I don’t want my legacy for the planet to be left to my reusable Harris Teeter shopping bag or a weekly recycling run. That is pissing in the proverbial wind. I am going for “cause” level. Too much at stake.
P.S. Save The Spotted Owl