Although you would expect a pants-on-fire liberal like me to freak out about the BP oil disaster, I found myself oddly unable to get riled up. It’s true, I often compare oil companies to drug dealers. They’re feeding evil, and not evil themselves. I prefer oil companies, since they don’t directly feed cycles of violence and poverty in my neighborhood, and transportation and air conditioning seem like greater goods than getting high.
It also failed to rile me because the whole situation made so much psychological sense. For example, I think my last relationship was the BP oil spill. Watching trouble burbling, I thought I could handle it. Knowing there was danger, I went ahead anyway because I was trying to get at something important. And then, even though the waste and the goo was getting everywhere, it took me a while to ask for help. Maybe part of the reason America freaked out so bad was that it’s not just an environmental disaster: we all have our own oil spills, whose pollution we are powerless to stop.
A broken oil well, deep underwater, is a lot like a troubled romantic relationship. No one knows what is going on down there, and no one really knows what to do about it. Following this metaphor to its natural conclusion, I blame President Obama’s distraction with silly matters like the war in Afghanistan and our floundering economy for my breakup.
This week, some guy in Utah opted for the firing squad. Go ahead, shoot me, he said. Dick Wolf, of “Law & Order” fame, was interviewed on “Fresh Air” recently, and he mentioned that it’s a very bad idea to tell someone to shoot you. While hanging out with cops and detectives, doing research for cop shows, he learned that when staring down a gun, many now-dead people had snarled, “Go ahead! Shoot me!” And real people with guns, unlike television characters with guns, are only too happy to oblige.
They did shoot the guy in Arizona, while his friends were singing “Free Bird” in the parking lot. Of course, your choices are limited when the state decides to kill you. The quick method is the only one they’ll allow. They don’t say, “Hey, we can give you a slow-growing cancer to suffer with for 10 years, or you can be lethally injected in 7 years and get it over with?” I’d choose the cancer.
In fact, I’m so committed to the slow leak that I rarely consider the firing squad. Sometimes it would be a great idea to go up to a problem in your life and blurt, “Go ahead!” I’d rather throw rubber tires at my problems. I’d rather send down an extra straw to suck up most, if not all, of the poison.
There’s another reason I can’t freak out at BP. I know we’ve done screwy things to confuse nature, but here in the midwest, I see too much empty space, and too much nature working and working things out. I am conservative about the environment. Better safe than sorry. At the same time, I believe in the power of time and the deep down urge of life to live. Plankton want to live. Birds want to live. The ocean wants to work this oil out and grow things again. If I’ve lived my own oil spill, over and over again, I’ve also seen my messes wash themselves out, gather and break down, dilute and dissipate. With care and good intentions, it’s amazing what can wash out.
Firing squad article:
Dick Wolf interview:
2 thoughts on “Slow Leak/Quick End”
Perhaps out of confusion for how it reads (the relationship metaphor), or maybe not… I guess I’m trying to wrap my head around the ‘psychological sense’ that this makes. That in relationships there will always be trouble?
What doesn’t make sense to me is how corporate greed and a culture of profit vs. safety has slipped under the radar for so long. It doesn’t make sense to me that many animals are not only dying, but are having their habitats destroyed. So naturally, generations that have relied on that delicate balance will suffer, economically and emotionally.
I would happen in even a trouble relationship, I could wrap my head around some of the difficulties but never a devastation of this magnitude. When it comes to this disaster, there’s an uproar to be had and it’s long overdue. That’s what makes sense to me.
This is an incredibly wise post. When we say “they should” we are not saying “I did. This is mine.” We do not take responsibility for wallowing in muck and not paying attention, because, after all, it’s our muck, we’re familiar with it. We do not, as a general “WE”, take responsibility for wanting cheap gas and Hummers and F150 pickup trucks and we have a hard time seeing the cost. And we certainly have a hard time taking responsibility for the messes we create – whether it’s plastic bags along the highway or messes in relationships.
The “uproar” that needs to be made has less to do with big oil and more to do with our American need for MORE. More of everything.
Corporate greed is related to human greed is related to relationship greed. We want what we want.
The real question is how do I want to live? Me. Not “they.” How do I want to walk on this earth. How much of its resources do I want to grab, whether I’m grabbing from people or from the land. The earth is much more patient than we humans. We make messes. The earth cleans them up. The earth lives. We forget.