A Sickening in the Gulf Stream
[Editor’s note: This began as a comment this morning to “Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality” a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP’s poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]
You’re right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.
I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.
If you sit on a hill overlooking your local harbor or coastal area (a fat dune will do) and watch the ebb and flow of the ocean, its cycle of life, through days and nights, its tides, the winds shifting from onshore to offshore, the ceaseless march of crabs and gulls of all the limitless life of the sea you will soon notice another ebb and flow.
If you watch carefully you will see the people of the coast as they come to the water for their food, for their work, for play, for the simple enrichment of their souls. Watch them as their boats go to sea and return, as shops and restaurants and parking lots fill and empty, as beaches are walked and waves are ridden and music wafts on the salt breeze, as lines are cast and reeled in, as castles are built in the morning sand and washed away by the evening tide.
It is greed that interrupted this human tide, greed and arrogance and haste and insensitivity to life beyond my understanding.
Sickening? Yes, this oil, this poison brings a sickness of the senses, of sight and touch and smell … it poisons air and water, killing all it contacts, but it also brings a sickness of the soul, of the heart which many will not survive.
Some who do not survive this outrage, this insult to Earth and man, live far from the coast but still hear the surf and feel the spray and the wind and the laughing gulls and the sounds of children at play with castles and kites.
This evil event, this tragedy of human irresponsibility, this monstrous crime of rampant greed kills the idea, the very memories of Earth and peace and safe tranquil places and replaces them with a horizon of derricks, a landscape of refineries, terrible vistas of smog and smoke and burning choking realities of filth and death.
The wars that we wage against each other will never be won. They are not meant to be won, only waged, to be carried on continuously, gathering resources and wealth and power in an ugly and lustful cycle of futility.
The war that we wage against this Earth, our earth, can only be lost.