Individual response – by thought or action – to the BP oil spew is interesting.
(Note: months after posting this – a re-visit shows need for editing and revision but must return later. Also – I confess, I had Cheney in mind when I began, but didn’t work him in until a post-script. A title change may be called for! – will return later!)
I am in the camp of those who remark, with some urgency, on losses created all the way around by the toxins. Toxins of the oil itself, toxins of excessive chemical dispersants.
Given my thoughts, I’ve taken quite modest but persistent ‘action.’ Namely, I have, for a week, posted links, offered comment, to Facebook friends. (I have a small collection of friends; am making no particular effort to round up higher numbers, very much enjoy knowing FB allows the connection!)
These FB friends are people I know to be actively concerned in “earth care” issues. Even those few among them of conservative politics, even what I consider ‘extreme’ “conservative economic views” – (which by the way, I do not accept as ‘truly conservationist”) – are mindful citizens in their communities.
They take part in spring community clean-up days; they recycle, they may think twice before sending unwanted objects of any size to a landfill. They for the most part do not smoke tobacco, and also for the most part thoughtfully eat healthful foods.
In my week of FB sharing, not a single one has posted a response to my BP oil spew links or comments. No “I view the spew differently”, no “I agree”. Not one (but me) has posted their thoughts on the spew. (I take that back – one who lives close to the spew conditions did make a single sentence reference once.)
I’ve shared life with these friends long enough to not be fully surprised. I’ve come to recognize a difference in outlook between me and them that often sometimes seems curious, interesting. I understand some of them are so involved in work and personal life pursuits that they may agree with some of what I post, but have ‘ruled out’ active show of agreement as not their FB purpose or focus. (Although, one would think a ‘like’ click would be quick enough!)
I feel my posts have turned into an experiment I did not intend to run! “How long”, I wonder, “can I keep offering links and comment until at least one posts an alternative view?” IF such a post happens, I predict it will be to explain a “toned down” response. I predict a view that accepts the danger and loss created by the spew, but claims an “overview” of “this is not as big or as enduring in effect as alarmist thinking suggests.”
I confess to a component of ‘mischievousness’ combined with an urge to “get serious” about my accidental experiment and see where it goes! Probably I won’t – I do not mean to toy with affection from these thoughtful and well-meaning life-friends. Many have distinctly different but equally passionate commitments, all oriented toward “overall benefit”. I have great appreciation for who they are, for their commitments!
Given the silence so far, however, I can only guess at possible alternative views. (I’ve also come to notice that in family history, there are no “outspoken social critics” except me! I have one sibling who carries thoughts that strongly match mine, but does not use internet so does not ‘publicly’ air views. Grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles … and across life, many friends … none known for urge to social criticism as is this writer! I’ve plenty of friends who voice critical observations, and analytically discuss “issues”, but these are not active FB posters. )
I have often wondered at this; (how did I ‘manage’ to be ‘outspoken’ while sharing much constant company with many who seem either disinterested or even ‘disapproving’ of my practice?) So this morning my thoughts are on my FB experience with BP postings. I’ve often felt my views on FB are measured as ‘negative’. I can speak about human experience that is joyful, ‘positive’, ‘congratulatory’, and am ‘rewarded’ with ‘likes hits’ or even comment to extend the shared feeling.
But when my posts suggest “we humans have something to examine in ourselves here”, the response, so far, is silence.
I do NOT view my “criticism” as negative! I view social criticism (including political, economic criticism) as essential. I view humans as blessed with capacity to “be more than we have shown ourselves to be so far”. I view “impossible goals” of human achievement as the very goals that we would do well to keep in mind! I view human capacity for reflective and analytical thinking as among our blessings, innate tools, available to support us in reaching for those impossible goals.
I do not view “overall human achievement” as “proven” in the “success” of person A, person B, etc. I do not view human achievement as proven successful if SOME (say for instance ‘middle class’) are served, but impoverished lives continue or numbers in poverty increase.
And I do believe that in this material, earth-bound, world, social and economic policy, including attitudes, beliefs about “big capitalism” (and linking it in error to individual initiative, creative productivity), we have need of active critical thinking. We have reason to examine our current economic structures, their impact on overall well-being, the irony that their ‘function’ is to support “advancement of humanity” when misery is a common outcome!
I view “overall human achievement” as “proven” (or not) by the overall outcome for the whole population – including global population, including life that is not human, including sustainability of earth’s blessed capacity to support life.
It’s clear that many humans are less inclusive than I seem to be in their examination of life purpose, life goal, life possibility. BP and other corporate executive decisions so demonstrate.
It’s also clear that individual action, much less significant than BP and mega-corporate decision making, is constantly at work in the overall dynamic of human achievement.
Take action of a “common litter bug” for instance. It’s amazing to drive behind a vehicle and witness a window rolled down, an adult hand reaching out, and a candy bar wrapper dropped! How many years has “littering” been considered “unnecessary and unhelpful with no redeeming justification?” Yet it continues. Less than might have been, but it’s not lost as a practice.
People who don’t litter from cars or while walking, (nearly everyone I know does not), often remark on the oddness that littering continues. There is often an ‘analysis’ that the litter-bug “does not care to be responsible”.
In my “everything is a model for everything else” world view, littering behavior is the same “ordinary human behavior” that leads to excesses that result in events like the BP spew.
A litter-bug may well believe that those who complain about littering are “over-reacting”, are “making a big deal over a small matter”, are “pushing an extreme agenda”.
I think recently of Vietnam war protests in the late 1960’s. I think of the early attitudes toward protesters. I think of American attitudes in present time toward single-payer health care systems. I think of media participation to ignore, or down-play, or support these calls for large, possibly ‘radical’ shifts in whole-culture beliefs and practices.
The Vietnam war protests finally ‘hit home’. It was thought by many this did not develop until the general American population experienced personal loss, personal involvement, with the horrors of that war. Single-payer health care, supported by all citizens on behalf of all citizens, has yet to reach that level of “personal loss”. Anger at “corporatism” as destructive to democracy and to life in general, may be developing, but is by no means active in the minds of many.
In these two – basic health care for everyone, and serious regulation of corporatism, many are still unconvinced that there is just cause. Those who complain toward need for radical change on these two are often judged as “over-reacting”, “making a big deal over a small matter”, or “pushing an extreme agenda.”
Pretty much the same view as may be held by the common ‘litter-bug’ tossing a candy bar wrapper out a car window or onto the sidewalk when walking!
I stand by my personal ‘analysis’. “Mindfulness”, living “mindfully”, is not achieved if it does not recognize “universal humanity and earth dynamics”.
We humans at this point continue to dismiss potentially, and in reality, harmful, even brutal, human activity. We continue to rationalize why it is not important for us to stand up to excessive social, economic, political powers.
We continue to interpret “success” and “achievement” as personal and available “to all” in this “not perfect but pretty wonderful demonstration of human civilization at its best”.
We continue to self-congratulate that we are not, in deed and fact, actual ‘litter-bugs’.
I stand also by another facet of my personal analysis: “Everything is a model for everything else.” It is possible to not be an actual litter-bug, to hold beliefs against tossing candy bar wrappers, and to still be inappropriately dismissive of calls for real, even radical, shifts in human beliefs and practices.
My Best! –MaggieAnn
(PS: Have come to realize about myself: I am deeply enough immersed in ‘human family’ experience, that I do not have a strong ‘tribal’ emotional link to “actual family”. I tend to experience any person as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ – even people in communities anywhere in the world, communities I have never visited and likely never shall. I feel similarly toward non-human forms of life, “brother bear” (or whale, or meerkat, or wolverine,…), feel like genuine ‘relationships’ to me. “Stewardship” responsibility – my helpfulness, my unhelpfulness, as either occurs, is “family responsibility”, “family connection”.I may forever raise warnings of thought/action demonstrated by, for instance, Dick Cheney. But if I came across him in a suffering condition, in need of my personal assistance, I would spontaneously offer my help. Quite possibly I would also deliver a lecture – if I thought “brother Cheney’s” immediate condition was one in which it was “OK” to share some analytical criticism!)
(My Best Again!! –MaggieAnn)