I just watched the documentary film "The Fix' which chronicles the efforts made by British Petroleum to fix the problem in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion on the deep water drilling rig a couple of years ago. The documentary wasn't about BP's efforts to stop the gushing of oil into the gulf, rather it was about their efforts to "fix" the public's perception of the problem; to cover-up the massive damage being done to marine and human life in the areas affected by the toxic spill.
The documentary left me feeling dark and in despair about our human condition. The profound disregard and ongoing damage to the environment, and to one another, eroded my confidence in the goodness of this modern civilization. What is clear is that industry and governments are not acting in the best interest of citizens, but rather are colluding in the best interest of shareholders, politicians and executives who wish to remain in power and enjoy the benefits of power. The fact that these two groups are one in the same is the insanity of this situation.
But what was most disconcerting is not the decisions made by the top-level executives of British Petroleum. It was that many thousands implemented their destructive and dishonest plans. It's easy to blame the Chairman and the CEO of BP and believe these are greedy and irresponsible people. And while this is undoubtedly true, the truth is even more disturbing.
The damage and the deception is not possible by their own individual efforts. The CEO has no more power to wreak havoc on the environment or deceive the American people than GW Bush did to start the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Hitler did to kill millions of people in his extermination camps. The damage was put into action by thousands of individuals who collectively are causing massive destruction and death.
I know these are strong words and will cause most of us to squirm. I'm squirming too as I write them. But I know these words are the truth.
I attended a lecture many years ago where the speaker asked the audience a very simple question -- "How many people did Hitler kill?" The consensus of the audience was Hitler was responsible for killing many millions of people. The speaker then responded -- "Hitler is not known to have personally killed even one individual." I suspect the same is true for GW Bush.
I think we do Hitler, GW Bush, and ourselves a disservice when we buy into the belief that the damage and evil being done is because of the actions of a political figure or a corporate executive. The drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was not done by Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP. It was done by many thousands of workers who put on their overalls and boots and went to work everyday building the infrastructure in the Gulf.
The cover-up currently taking place on the beaches of Louisiana is not done by the Chairman of the Board of BP. The cover-up is being done by machine operators, boat operators, airline pilots, security guards, and laborers who collectively are covering up any evidence of oil on the beaches and the decaying of marine life on the shores.
A couple of months ago I was chastised by a reader who took offense to my newsletter entitled "Root Causes" where I invited readers to recognize that we are at root cause to the damage and destruction that we see each day on our televisions. The reader was incensed with my comments and demanded I remove her name from my mailing list. I wish the solution were that easy.
Seems to me we need to decide whether we care about the long-term sustainability of this planet and the survival of the human species, or whether our short term profits and mortgage payments are more important.
In a recent Vancouver Courier column (Multinationals Stick to Their Guns, June 7, 2013), Geoff Olson chronicles the dependence our largest multinationals have on war. Companies as Volvo, Caterpillar, John Deere, Samsung, Panasonic, Dell, Hyundai, Mitsubushi, and Rolls Royce are all making huge profits building weapons of war.
But these weapons are not made by them self. Many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of individuals strap on their boots everyday or take briefcases in hand and show up for work to design, build, transport, maintain and advertise these weapons of mass destruction.
It seems that until we decide we want to live, the destruction will continue and no government or corporation will save us. Any change in direction will be up to us.