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We're All A Little BP

By       Message Debbie Scally     Permalink
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We're all a little BP, aren't we? We just don't care to admit it that we are complicit in what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. As we watch the high drama unfold in the media and gasp in self-righteous horror at the destruction of the wetlands, we don't want to think about how we made BP and Exxon and the other oil giants possible. We don't want to think that we are the reason that they are devastating the planet, those greedy bastards, in their search for profit. We don't want to think that we are the reason they can announce those dreadful statistics touting the enormous amount of money they make from us. We don't think about it, but lately, it's become increasingly difficult to think about anything else.

I live in a big city, where one seriously needs to have a car. The city is a sprawl; if one has errands, a person can expect to do some fairly serious driving. Rarely are you going to find everything you need in walking or biking distance. Plus, public transportation here is awful; we're on a "hub" system, so that it is relatively easy to go north and south, but a real, time-consuming hassle to go east or west. Traffic is always bad, and seems to be getting worse, both in terms of the amount of people on the road and, let's say, the "quality" of the driving. One adjusts.

At any rate, while I was sitting in my car yesterday, baking in the heat (we've had a stretch of several days of over 100 degrees already) along with the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, I started looking around at the other vehicles, and I started to get really angry at all of us including myself. We are in the middle of the worst environmental catastrophe in our lifetimes (most of us) and here we are, still driving gigantic guzzlers of the very stuff that is spewing out into our waters and that will kill us is already killing us by killing our environment.

This is Texas, and the pickup truck is king. This is Dallas, so the SUV (or, as I like to call them UAV, as in Urban Assault Vehicle) is Crown Prince or Queen, or whatever your suitable metaphor. And the roads here are full of them - Sting's "shining metal boxes," from Synchronicity. The ration of guzzlers to sedans here is about 3 to 1. Maybe more. And nearly every vehicle, as far as I can see, carried only a single occupant, including mine ( In my own defense, though I , too, am an oil addict, I drive a fairly fuel-efficient sedan).

So, there we were, placidly sitting at traffic lights, tailgating on the highways, crowding into already crowded parking lots on a typical Saturday afternoon. It's no wonder Tony Hayward and his cronies at BP are so blase about this spill. It's no wonder that Dick Cheney (conspicuous by his absence these days) and Bush and their oil pals are not worried. They know that, despite the rhetoric of eight separate presidents, despite recycling and Earth Day, we are not about to give up our cars or our oil until we have no other choice. It is we who allow companies like Exxon and BP to do what they do. Our feeble protests about marine life and pelicans, our clarion calls to march down to the Gulf and take care of this spill ourselves, while noble, do not motivate us enough to stop driving or to absolutely refuse to buy another new car or truck or van until auto companies stop yanking our chains and building fuel-efficient, alternative energy-powered options. We still have to get to work, take the kids to soccer practice, go to doctor appointments, and whatever, and it's just such a drag to carpool or ride the bus (and it really is).

Still, until we do this, until we refuse to comply further with their murder of both people and the planet we live in and on, we will continue to be forced to watch charades like oil company criminals tossing blame at one another, denying any prior knowledge of what they clearly knew, and , not only dragging their feet on solving the problem, but continuing to do the same damn thing, knowing that another spill is not just likely, but inevitable. And we will continue to hand them our money as they do so, because we are not willing to stop using oil.

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Yeah, it'll be hard. In fact, it sounds like some new-age pipe dream. We are awfully invested in our personal transportation units, giving them far more psychic power than they deserve as mere machines that get us from point A to points B, C, and D. But, if we stop buying, companies will have to stop producing and use some of that alternative technology they already own. Companies, even huge corporations, can't stay in business without someone to purchase their product. They will have to change to meet the demands of the purchaser. Or die. Like the Gulf Coast.

So, excuses aside, we are all a little BP if we drive a machine that runs on their stuff. Period.

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I'm a college English teacher working on my dissertation. I am an anime junkie and a Shakespeare scholar, a voracious reader and a political rebel.

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