My dear ‘Bama,
If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, life on your coast–my coast–may never be the same. My heart has been aching for you, for the bay, for the wildlife lost, for the fisherman and shrimpers who depend on you for their livelihood, for the children who won’t be able to play in the sand or swim in those warm coastal waters on a hot day without worry of ingesting tarballs or dispersants. It certainly doesn’t seem like the end is in sight because even if they stop the “leak” tomorrow, the damage is already done. It feels insurmountable and I’m sad.
If the last few months have taught us anything, it should be that our dependency on oil (foreign or not) needs to change, that big private business needs to be held to the highest degree of accountability, that “worst case scenario” plans are well worth it and that hindsight isn’t enough. We’ve also learned that no one person has the right answer. We’ve all been humbled at your expense, ‘Bama, and I hope people don’t quickly forget these lessons learned.
The other day, I was trying to make sense of it all and I explained it to a friend like this: If you have a roommate that doesn’t do her dishes, it can be hard for you to not rush in and clean it up when you are doing your own dishes. Yet, you don’t. You don’t clean up your roommate’s dishes because she’s an adult and should be able to clean up her own dishes. So you wait. You leave that dish, staring you down from the sink. You leave it in the hopes that your roomie will eventually see the dish and clean it up. Thing is, that dish isn’t going to cause major economic and ecological damage that will take decades to reverse.
I agree that BP is a private entity and that they should be solely responsible for cleaning up this mess. But at what cost are we willing to wait until something is done? This is not a singular spill. This is 59 days of spill and when the oil spill is stopped, BP needs to be charged with the responsibility for not one spill, but a whole mess of spills equal to the days it took them to stop it. 59 spills and counting, in my book.
I’m devastated, as many are, at the powerlessness we all feel. I want to do something! I want to take action! I want to donate! Yet, there are no vehicles for this kind of aid because someone else is footing the bill. Someone else is denying help from the locals who want nothing more than the proper training and tools to save their beaches, their bays, their estuaries, their livelihoods. It angers me that this even has paralyzed so many. I can’t help but feel like if we accepted aid from other countries, local officials and organizations, and pooled all the resources together possible, we could put a stop to this. We could take back our shores and our Gulf. We could have OUR lives back. I don’t know many that would disagree with me.
I think the best thing we can do now is to keep fighting. If we sit back we might as well be covered in oil…and not the kind Jimmy Buffett talks about in the song. Most of all, I want you to know I’m thinking about you and I’ll do whatever I can to support you and bring you back. I may not live there any more, but so far no beach I’ve been to can compare. I want my babies to sit at the waters edge, build sand castles, and search for shells. I want my bay clean, I want my gulf clean. The only thing I want soiled and stained is BP’s reputation…and conscience. Who’s with me?
You’re always on my mind, ‘Bama. Now more than ever.