Saturday, June 05, 2010

I Did It. I'm Sorry.

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Who needs to be Catholic to feel guilty? Even Druids get the blues.

Being a first-year school teacher has insulated me from the news. I'm not home in time to watch CBS, and I don't have time to read the newspaper. Usually I sleep through "Countdown with Keith," which is fine by me. He's kind of snobby.

Last night I was awake for "Countdown." Keith trotted out the photos of oil-coated shore birds and marshes mired in crude. I knew this was happening, but you know what they say about a picture painting a thousand words.

Keith was pointing fingers. Who's to blame for this catastrophe? For catastrophe it is, my friends. Here on the East Coast, I expect next winter's snowfalls will contain oil from this spill.

It's a disaster. Can't blame any deity. So, where do we really point the finger?

It's me. I did it. I am at least partly to blame for this mammoth catastrophe, for those dead birds and reeking marshes. It's my fault.

I consume the oil that is pumped from those wells. I drive a car, air condition my house, use electricity to run appliances -- even this computer. I make useless trips to stores, drive long distances for leisure activities, and buy stuff that's encased in layers of plastic. This is my lifestyle, and is it BP's fault that they are profiting from it?

I wish I could say that I'm going to change my ways, but I can't remember a time when the places I lived had no electricity (even our farm in Appalachia had electricity by the time I was born). I can't remember a time without cars. Everything I do is based on the oil/coal economy. Granted, my drive to work is short, but it's just far enough that I can't bike it. My house has 38 windows and no cross-ventilation. Even if each and every window is open, no air blows in. Only light. Which is great in the winter, but today it's 92 degrees outside.

I'm sorry, birds. I'm sorry, marshes. I'm sorry, fishermen.

There's no need to apologize to Gaia, however. She has seen worse. Stupid schlubs like me pale in comparison to massive meteors, supervolcanoes, and Ice Ages.

That doesn't make me happy about being a stupid schlub, though. It just means I won't be driving my car to BP headquarters to protest their profit-making. If I want to point a finger at who's to blame for this oil spill, I only need to walk to a mirror. Turn on the light first, so I can see my polluting self all the better.


Hecate said...

Derrick Jensen says we're not guilty for driving cars in Car Culture. We're guilty for not bringing Car Culture down. He may have a point.

Willow said...

It's good to know that I'm not alone in feeling guilty. We're in very similar situations. My drive to my school district isn't very far, but I cannot fathom getting up those hills on a bike, in shape or not. Plus, everyone else in their gas guzzling machines would surely run me over since all the roads to my job are in very busy intersections.

Nissan will have the Leaf, an electric car, out by the end of the year. Want to join me on the waiting list for one? I know it doesn't completely eliminate the dependence on oil (you need the oil to create the charge for the car), but it's a step in the right direction.

Thalia Took said...

Yeah, I'm with Hecate (and Derrick). Individuals feeling guilty does nothing but make the individual feel like powerless crap while letting BP off the hook. And they want it that way.

Yes, humanity's hubris is out of control; and yes, I and you are part of humanity. However, corporations are by far the worst polluters out there; and taking the bulk of the guilt on ourselves mean they continue to get away with it. It's calculated victim-blaming, on their part, and frankly an abusive dynamic (as Jensen says, and I agree with him).

Here are some excerpts from his book Endgame:

Oh, and: you are not a stupid schlub.

THE Michael said...

I live in the South, which is an suburban-sprawl, anti-mass transit, ultra-huge pick-up truck driving, walmart shopping culture which REFUSES to allow me the choice to take a trolley or light rail to work along these corridors which stretch for miles and miles with no bike lanes, no buses, no NOTHING as alternative.

I'm too poor to go around this self-destructive culture down here to buy myself an electric car, put solar panels on my double-wide, or whatever it would take to wean myself from the grid. And the powers that be love it that way. You should hear the way my local electric "co-op" badmouths alternative energy or cap-and-trade.


we're all to blame..our greed for oil finally did us in.

Lori F - MN said...

Okay. I accept responsibility for using more than my fair share of oil. But Why, WHY can't they get the darn thing capped? How long have we been drilling for oil in the ocean? Surely this sort of thing has happened before. It seems that someone out there is more interested in sitting with their thumbs up their ass rather than getting the pipe capped.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Derrick Jensen is one of My Heroes - he gets it completely right, in my opinion.
The victim guilt has to stop, or we'll be held immobile by it.
Start dismantling the culture, in your locality, now.
Terri in Joburg

Pom said...

While I am frequently bombarding myself with guilt over the state of Earth, this is one of those times I just can't carry the load. When considering the BP oil disaster I can only sit here and think - "if only the assholes had checked the batteries!". A dead battery is now the leading cause of death in the Gulf's ecosystem. Because someone didn't bother to test a battery millions of lives have been lost to millions of gallons of sticky substance that was previously known as "black gold" and now is going to cost BP some of their gold to fix. Species that were previously plentiful are now extinct or endangered. Because a battery was not checked and there was no plan as to what would stop a leak like this should it come about. Similar to the Iraq exit strategy.

Nope - this is not one I'm taking the blame for.

(though I do cry sob and flog myself over the video of a seagull swallowing a plastic bag even though it wasn't my plastic bag)