Here's the best thing I've read on the subject of the oil spill. Written by Mark Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle, it acknowledges the dark side of this whole event: our common complicity in the demand for oil. We have known for at least forty years that this dependency was a threat to our well-being and to the natural environment, but have done nothing to address it. Indeed, the reverse, our demand has only increased, our addiction deepened. It has clearly not been a national priority to even assure the safety of the drilling operations that service that addiction, particularly those offshore. No, we Americans have embraced the notion that we deserve cheap gasoline, unlike the citizens of the vast majority of nations who pay through the nose for it. Our aversion to paying our fair share in the world has meant that no politician in his or her right mind would speak out for the obvious--a gasoline tax. It should have happened decades ago. Oh, and sensible government regulation, which might have inconvenienced our corporate sponsors... Socialism!
Morford also points to the opportunity we are being offered by this disaster: to finally recognize our responsibility and come to our senses. We could learn to recognize that we depend on these fossil fuels at a potentially devastating cost to our environment and our well-being as a nation, and that we need to agree on immediate action to come out of denial and get ourselves into rehab--the 12-step program offers a workable model, depending as it does on personal honesty and responsibility, and the support of community; to conserve, protect, and assure the safe recovery of the fossil fuels that remain to us; and most importantly to devote our national energies, resources and innovative skills to the development of alternative sources of energy.
Sounds simple and obvious. Those of us on the left look to the man we elected as President for leadership, but we tend to forget that leadership is impracticable without followership. We are in extreme danger of leaving him up the flagpole on which we have hoisted him, flapping helplessly in every unfriendly gust that comes along. No one, it seems, is prepared to sacrifice an iota of personal well-being--or personal opinion--for what is so clearly the common good. Absurdly, we conspire against our own best interests. So now, with the results of our short-sightedness in plain view to all, will we persist in exculpating ourselves and assigning our responsibility elsewhere? Or will we be able to look into the mirror of this murky mass of filth that pollutes the Gulf and see the reflection of the dark side of ourselves?