David's stone and a slingshot doesn't work quite the way it used to...
Grandma used to say “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
For most of my life, I believed it.
But lately I’m not so sure. Many people today are more frustrated, more angry, more aggressive, feeling helpless, and are considerably more violent.
The world feels “off.”
I grew up in the 1960’s during the height of the Vietnam War. To my childlike eyes, the human race was going bananas. People were burning flags, bras, draft cards, dropping acid, and pushing aside the old cloak of morality, as well as shrieking opinions on everything from the War to Civil Rights. It was a crazy time, a frightening time, but it was also an exciting time.
It was as though the world was being reborn, although none of us at the time knew exactly what the new baby was going to look like.
We were like an army of little Davids, loading slingshots for our turn up to bat with Goliath. Good would conquer evil if we fought the good fight, if we believed in our cause.
Sometimes we prevailed.
However the Davids of today don’t know how to fight modern day Goliaths. A stone and a sling shot no longer carries enough punch to fell a giant corporate Philistine. Rather than brandishing a sword, Goliath surrounds himself with high priced suits of every ilk that are sworn to protect his interests at any cost.
I think that most of us living along the GulfCoast would consider Tony Hayward of British Petroleum to be our modern day Goliath, a true blue Philistine. He and his team, in all their pillaging wisdom have managed to turn a once pristine body of water into a toxic toilet bowl.
Some thought it would never happen however that sort of ignorance has proven very costly.
I, like so many others figured that oil companies wouldn’t be stupid enough to scrimp on safety measures that would protect what they pump. Considering that black gold went for nearly $150 per barrel as recently as 2008, it was reasonable to assume that companies like BP would protect their booty at any cost.
Business 101: NEVER ASSUME.
Prior to the explosion on April 20th, it was discovered that the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer (called an annular) was damaged. The annular is a rubber gasket that can close around a drill pipe. With chunks of rubber missing, the gasket would not be able to do its designated job in case of emergency. In addition, the backup control system to the blowout preventer called a pod was also crippled.
Did they shut down and make the necessary repairs?
Five weeks later livelihoods are gone, hotels, restaurants and beach businesses are threatened with ruination, Louisiana’s delicate marshland is all but destroyed and tar balls are washing up on beaches. The list of damages grows more every day.
And then there’s the wildlife.
As with most modern conflicts, stark photographs often tell the story far better than a writer ever could.
The attached image of an oil soaked Eastern Brown pelican personifies this tragedy for me; his wings outstretched, flapping in the fouled water, his coated eyes bulging in agony from the burning toxins, his huge bill open, cavernous, as though gasping for breath.