Thanks so much for the slight hope evoked by your conversation with Ellen Davis in the "Life and Poetry of Creatures" program since I have been feeling horribly misplaced on the Earth, or at least feel that I have worn out my welcome upon it. The disaster in the Gulf has made me terribly depressed and despairing that as an ongoing oil consumer, powerless to overcome my nasty petroleum habit, my prolonged existence can be nothing but a continuing blight on the planet; my every carbon footprint crushing innocent creatures and plants underfoot despite my best efforts to consume less and walk lighter. Recently I have been making plans once my family obligations are complete to exercise my right to forcibly remove my footprints forever from the beleaguered land since nothing I can hope to do to assist my fellow creatures seems sufficient to undo the damage done to the planet to date, and what my continued existence will wreak in the next 20-30 years I can be expected to live even if I never again take an airplane flight, or stop using my car completely. Ms. Davis’ suggestion that the Gulf disaster is awakening awareness by others of their own responsibility and obligation to rein in or at least moderate further damage occasioned by their feckless daily consumption mitigated some of my own acute and painful awareness of my portion of responsibility for depredation of the Earth in the inevitable support of my own survival. Becoming a vegetarian, training as an animal disaster rescue volunteer (even traveling to the Gulf once to perform this service), and limiting my use of petroleum products has not forestalled the horror of Deepsea Horizon, or the inevitable destruction of many animals (and whole species) in the Gulf region. At the very least, however, media coverage of the Gulf’s spreading tree of destruction and its many sorrowful branches is difficult to avoid, and such wide coverage hopefully will lead to awareness and knowledge even by the most clueless or obstinate humans among us who cannot avoid the images and stories of the destroyed habitat of the region; the wrecked livelihoods of fishing or tourism and supporting businesses in the region; the closing of schools and public services for remaining residents due to loss of taxes from other families forced to quit the region; of the surrender of beloved animal family members to overwhelmed Gulf shelters, etc. But while I may or may not be able to sustain and integrate the anguish which overwhelms me with each of these news stories, perhaps the consciousness of such ecological and human destruction is beginning to make a dent in the previously-impervious consciences of other freely-consuming Americans. I have shaved off my hair to send to the Gulf partly to fill booms to soak up oil as a matter of "practical theology", but I have also done this as a sign of mourning for the spiritual life I wish I had to better sustain me in such grief.
More information about text formats