Typically, I try not to make these things all that personal, usually covering up a lot of feelings with humor, dark cynicism, take a few jabs at politicians while emotionally stepping slightly outside of myself, a calculated distance learned from many years of social work that makes it easier to blunt the emotional impact of what I do for a living, but I don’t really feel like doing that today.
Today’s kind of different for me, sometimes it’s okay to let the guard slip a bit.
Today’s “Black Friday,” and I understand that if I were to head out into the early morning darkness, it would be likely I’d encounter a large number of people waiting in line outside various stores – get there early, get the best deals and all that. Good enough, I’ll cast no dispersions here because its not really any of my business, but I have to wonder how the people in the Gulf Coast feel about the term “Black Friday” this year. I imagine it would bring about certain associations they haven’t previously had to deal with, at least not so harshly, not so emotionally charged. Keeping that in mind, I have a few things I’d like to write down, put out there for anyone so interested:
Personally, I don’t know anyone who’s lost anything as a result of the British Petroleum oil spill.
Perhaps this might come as a surprise to people who’ve read this blog, perhaps not. Knowing this, one might be inclined to question why I might spend the time I spend doing this. It’s certainly a question I’ve asked myself and after much thought I’ve come up with a number of reasons – my love for the city of New Orleans, my disgust with injustice in this country, my job as a social worker and my resulting desire to try to help people (Chicken and egg argument to me, been doing it so long I don’t remember what came first anymore – the job or the desire?). I tend to hold a lot of anger, simply because I see a lot to be angry about and all these reasons, my reasons, are good enough for me but I think the most important reason, the one that typically wakes me at five am to sit at my computer is I do know what it is like to watch, seemingly powerless, as something so important to you is taken away.
This is what continues to happen in the Gulf, and this is what makes me very angry.
Everything changed for so many on April 20th, due to the errors, malfeasance, greed – what have you, of corporations operating in the Gulf of Mexico. And that is not a story of mistakes by a business just trying to get ahead, you know, engaged in the act of trying to do right, of trying to honestly bring needed product to market. It’s the story of greed, of domination, of wink wink nudge nudge with government regulators set up to ensure things like this don’t happen. It’s unromantic piracy of the worst sort, filled with half-truths, buried information and powerful people sitting in well decorated offices and mahogany boardrooms making insulated decisions with very little regard for the impact of their decisions beyond the bottom line and the company’s shareholders.
It’s simply, wrong.
In the offices of British Petroleum, Transocean and Halliburton, in the offices of the NOAA, the EPA, the FDA, the MMS, on the oil platforms, in the engineering departments, in the contractor’s offices and in all the state government buildings and even in the Oval Office, people will be sitting next week and some of them will be aware that they knew something. They made a decision, they changed a policy, they cut a corner because they were greedy, or busy, or they figured the next guy would catch it. They thought, that’s a problem for later, for next week, for after vacation…or that can’t be proved in court, I have deniability, I covered my ass, I decided it was necessary to look at the big picture.
And nobody really thought the current big picture in the Gulf of Mexico would be the result.
Nobody thought that for five states, “Black Friday” would take on a new meaning or carry with it new word associations.
But it has.
So to them, and more specifically to Mr. Bob Dudley, I know you have a corporation to run, but the decisions your company made ruined thousands of lives, have made thousands sick, destroyed places so beautiful and much of the wildlife that once thrived there. Everything’s gone legal now, positions are being chosen, strategies adopted and everything’s become precedent so you’re being careful…but as you run through the next few years of your life doing what it is you do, take a minute every now and again to think about, not “the people” because you’ve learned how easy it it to distance emotionally from a label or a group, but think of one person. That’s a bit more difficult, person is personalized, think of one person whose kids are hungry, who can’t pay her bills, who cries more than she used to, who is depressed, who has a sick husband, who is feeling overwhelmed by all the paperwork, the worries that she didn’t have before or are stronger now, and then realize there are thousands of this person. Realize your company had a big hand in doing this to all of these thousands of persons.
And then stop hiding behind your rhetoric, your boardroom walls, your feelings of legal responsibilities and liabilities, of what can be proven and what can’t, your newest commercials…
Not much I can do about it personally, but keep writing and hope you know the spit in your face, some of it’s mine.
Enjoy your Black Friday, whatever it means to you.
And to the residents of the Gulf Coast and everyone affected, for whatever it’s worth, I wish you the best today and hope that it soon gets better for every person that’s suffering, right now.
You’re in my thoughts.
Have a nice day.