There has lately been a lot of talk in the World of Facebook about the oil spill in the gulf. The talk has been angry and scared – a lot of folks are pretty bitter about BP’s many unethical decisions leading up to this disaster. This reaction is to be expected, and it feels good to air our concerns and point fingers at the dirty oil barons. But the other day, my friend Jennifer Woods from Typecast Publishing posted this:
“All the oil spilled into the Gulf thus far only equals about one hour’s worth of energy consumption in the US. Just felt like that’s a fact people would want to know. Blows my mind.”
This of course is the heart of the problem. We can’t just say it’s BP’s fault, or “no off-shore drilling in my back yard” if it is our demands and way of life that require such practices. We are each and every one of us culpable for the millions of gallons of oil spewing forth from the bottom of the gulf each day.
Once we are willing to accept this fact – this horrific responsibility – the knowledge can be freeing, and may be the one thing that puts a silver lining on the spill’s dark and ominous cloud. Why is it freeing? Because now it’s an event that we can do something about. Now the power to prevent this from happening again lies not in BP’s or some other oil company’s hands, but in ours. Ah, the beauty of capitalism: supply and demand. If our demands change, then so does the supply.
You might now be saying: “nobody is going to give up the joy of mass consumerism, bargain shopping or RV road trips! People won’t change!” or “we’ve built our whole country on the shoulders of consumerism! The economy would collapse without it!” When I’m having a bad day, these are often my own quotes. But when I’m objective and calm, I look back at history for proof that we humans constantly adapt to new lifestyles and values. It is what has gotten us this far. As a child, my dad experienced movie theaters in segregated Alabama that separated white and black people in the audience (black people had to sit up in the balcony). And now, your own personal politics aside, we have an African American president. In less than one lifetime! There have been countless societal structures built and rebuilt throughout history, trying on certain values and customs and shedding the ones that don’t work. Our present is not static – it never has been. I believe that we are now at the beginning of our next stage of historical metamorphosis.
Following my mantra of living intentionally, I will talk about consumerism in many of my blog entries, specifically looking at certain practices as candidates for the recycling bin. I’ll talk about other things too, but I think that our blind consumption is a fantastic place to begin the practice of awareness. What do you think?