Monday, May 24, 2010

Like President Bush before him, President Obama is apparently determined to miss the opportunity he’s been handed to initiate some serious “get-off-the-oil-tit” policies and get this country out from under Big Oil’s thumb:
Mr. Obama said he would hold both the government and BP accountable. But he did not retreat from his plan to expand offshore oil drilling and in fact portrayed the commission as a means to make that possible.

“Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future,” the president said. “But we can only pursue offshore oil drilling if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again.”
Hey, you know what would ensure that a disaster like the BP oil spill never happens again?

A ban on offshore oil drilling.

Seriously, it's the only thing that will work. So why even talk about "safe" offshore oil drilling? If it were safe we wouldn't have a disaster on our hands right now. It's not safe.

I remember how after the 9/11 attacks, the nation was shell-shocked and everyone was donating blood by the gallon because we all wanted to give, we wanted to do something and nobody could think of anything else to do. I wanted to plant a Victory Garden, I was ready to give up sugar and nylons and ration gasoline and all the rest.

A smart president and Congress who had their eye on the future not their wallets would have said: now is the time to conserve energy. Now is the time for us to pull together and use public transportation and raise (or lower) our thermostats and start making the transition away from the policies that forced us to do business with people who hate us. The policies that saw us go to greater and greater extremes to secure oil for multinational corporations who might share some of it with us.

A smart president and Congress would have begun our nation’s transition to renewable energy, urged every municipality to implement strict conservation-oriented building codes, raised fuel efficiency standards, and all the rest. We all would have done it, too. Because we all understood that as long as we consume oil--any oil--we are participating in a game that includes terrorism.

Instead we were told to go shopping and support a war in a country that contains the world’s third largest proven oil reserves.

So here we are, nearly nine years later, and we have an ecological disaster down in the Gulf of Mexico, the magnitiude of which we are only just beginning to grasp.

A smart president and Congress who had their eye on the future not their wallets would say: now is the time for renewable energy. Now is the time for us to begin the transition away from the dangerous policies that destroy the ecosystems on which the entire planet depends, so a few can profit. Now is the time to say never again will we put the needs of one industry above the needs of the planet that sustains us--and the needs of the people and economy that depend on a healthy environment. Industries like fishing, shrimping, oystering, tourism. Never again will we allow the powerful to exploit resources shared by us all, when our food, water and air are at stake and when viable alternatives exist.

But no. We seek "assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again" so we can all go along as before. Pay no attention, move along.

Times like these call for greatness. Sadly, our nation sorely lacks such things. I think of Franklin D. Roosevelt, how he rallied the nation to pull together after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. How a nation weary from the Great Depression still managed to pull together, roll up their sleeves, and fight the threat from Germany and Japan. Women went to work, men went to war, we gave up creature comforts and rationed our gasoline, and bought War Bonds. I wonder if we'll ever see that kind of effort again.

We’ve had so many opportunities. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and subsequent hostage crisis. After a few months we shake these warning signs off and carry on as before, because no one has had the fortitutude to make us do otherwise.

I don't know if Obama is playing some kind of political game here or not. But we don't need politics and we don't need games. We need leadership.

I found this prayer request from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Present Chief and Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nation of the Sioux. It's a prayer to all people of all religious traditions around the world. Please read it and consider adding your voice to this call.

Chief Arvol writes:
The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

We humans seem awfully slow to learn our lessons. We need some divine intervention here.