Humor has always been an invaluable tool used to help humanity take in the often overwhelming issues and circumstances we face in modern society. For this reason, I try my best to make sure it is in some form woven into my writing . Yet, here I am, feeling so not funny about what is going on in our world, feeling overwhelmed and helpless to do anything about it.
Over a month later and oil is still hemorrhaging into the Gulf waters. Innocent children are being murdered by policemen in Detroit and by soldiers in Afghanistan. People are eating food filled with chemicals and pesticides and have no sense of urgency to eat otherwise. There is a plastic island twice the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Greed is tearing through this world causing foreclosures, pollution and a whole host of other things. How can I make any of this funny? It is so not funny.
Okay, let me give it a shot.
(To be read with a vaudevillian accent…)
Hey, did you hear the one about the BP oil spill filling the Gulf of Mexico? The amount of oil pouring into the sea is so extensive, that it is now washing up on the shores and heading on up the coast. The fish ain’t jumpin’ and the fishing industry is as dead as the water. Chalk it up to the “shellfish” nature of Halliburton and BP.
Two crabs are walking along the coast of Louisiana and one says to the other, “There’s a slick substance on my back and I don’t feel so good.” The other crab looks at him and says, “Stop being so crabby!”
Two migratory birds are on their way up from South America to the United States. As they are flying over the Gulf waters one bird says to the other, “I think we better go for a non-stop flight. I don’t trust the color of the water.” The other bird looks down and says, “I think you’re right. Taking a dip would be rather ‘fuelish’.”
A priest, a rabbi and a BP executive are in a helicopter surveying the damage to the Gulf from above. The rabbi says, “How could something like this happen? I am afraid that greed has reared its ugly head yet again. Oy.” The priest says, “I feel the tears of Jesus falling into the tainted sea.” The BP executive says “Hey, I’m not too worried. The cleanup is costing 17.5 million a day, but we averaged a profit of 93 million a day in our first quarter. Greed has allowed us to pay for the cost of the spill. We’re good! Cheer up and have some shrimp. They’re going fast.”
A sorry attempt at bringing humor to this scenario, eh?
Lisa, you’re no Jon Stewart.
I suppose tuning out is another option for coping. Stop thinking about it and go have some fruit salad, weed the garden, go for a walk in the sun. There are so many people who are good at stepping away from the unbearable truth because they feel there is really nothing they can do, and they are better off finding good energy and spreading it around.
I think there is merit in this approach, but I am having a really hard time disconnecting from this oil spill. It is such an ecological tragedy and one that could have been prevented if greed had not been the filter through which the oil industry operated. Seeing dead birds and fish and turtles covered in toxic gunk, hearing the stories of fisherman who have lost a livelihood that has been followed in their family for generations, thinking of the magical underworld of the sea now in this thick, dark pocket of contamination, well, it is breaking my heart. I don’t know how to make light of it.
I realize that, personally, my best avenue for making peace with this situation is the spiritual perspective, the one that allows a human being to step way back to the larger story of life on Earth, to the origin of life and the unfolding of its existence.
Life in the physical form of a human is a dense road to travel. Yet we are not first and foremost our bodies, but rather our souls. This world we live in is not the only realm of existence. The Earth is a place where we come to live and learn and hopefully realize the full potential of the human as an unfolding expression of the universe. And what we have right now is the face of greed coming forth in such abundance as to be a catalyst for contemplating the role of the human, the potential for our contribution to life on planet Earth. We are coming face to face with our impact. Our future is totally ours to create.
Oil hemorrhaging into the sea is symbolic of the unending appetite of greed and consumption. It is at this point a spiritual issue of profound significance. Do we want to continue to extract from the Earth without concern for the larger Earth community that once so beautifully held the world in balance? Can we begin to tend to the bounty that remains for the sake of a viable future for generations yet to come? Can we willingly change how we live, demanding sustainable and humane practices that allow the natural processes of the Earth to regenerate and provide? Can we wake up to the level of toxicity we have so blindly been tolerating and say no to chemicals in our food, air and water? Why wouldn’t we?
What if this next phase of human history and potential were perceived as an adventure, one that came from a higher calling, one that had the universe waiting with baited breath to see if the human could shift gears for the sake of creating a lovely, kind world? No war, no pollution, “No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.” (How socialist!) Well said, John (Lennon, that is).
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” This BP oil tragedy seems unimaginable and yet, it is real and currently unstoppable.
What if we could imagine harnessing the sun and wind to fuel our lives, to planting trees instead of oil rigs, gardens instead of asphalt and concrete? What if the creatures of the sea were free to live, the creatures of the air free to fly? What if all creatures, including humans, were free from toxicity and contamination? This is what I want for my daughter Claire and for her children and their children. We owe it to them to step into an imaginary future and make it real.
I appreciate your soulful musings. Like you, like millions of others, my heart is hurting from this toxic hemorraging in the Gulf. I try not to obsess on it but the thought of it and of all the damage that has been done in the name of progress, in the name of higher profit margins, in the name of expediency, haunts my every hour. It is a struggle to stay optimistic. And yet, we have the capabilities to conceive of wondrous things, and right wrongs and correct imbalances. To we lack the collective will?