Invictus No More? Oil Spill Musings.
By Rosemary I. Patterson, Ph.D.
How well the lines of the poem "Invictus" fit the present situation on the Gulf of Mexico.
"Out of the night that covers me
Dark as the pit from pole to pole."
Residents of the Gulf States can only cringe in fear and hopelessness as the blackness of toxic oil approaches and encloses the life forms in both the ocean and on their once pristine shores.
We, the residents of a greater biosphere - the world- can only watch in horror from our TV live streaming video, courtesy of the oil company that caused the catastrophe, the black surge of crude oil sufging upward fueled by the enormous pressure of millions of years of natural putrification. We can only anticipate the lingering entrapment and death facing myriads of indigenous and migratory species who will inadvertently become embroiled in the oil even if by some intuitive ingenuity the once-confident engineers can finally stem the spurting brown mess.
Survivors of former greed-fueled epochs, the brown pelicans (DDT), migratory whales (merciless slaughter) join the oysters, shrimp, crabs, other crustaceans and ocean/terrestrial life that await only the soulless, cruel slime that will slowly end both their existence and the livelihoods of their human harvesters. So much for human beings being the stewards of the animal kingdom.
"I thank whatever Gods may be for mans immortal soul
For I am the Master of my fate and I am the Captain of my soul."
How true the above words echo in the present devastation. For indeed it is the hand of man who has both created and must lead and undertake the attempt to ameliorate the enormous, destructive force of this man-made disaster.'
"I think we have done all that we could be expected to do," states the peeved voice of the Captain of the oil company responsible for the devastation. "We are overseeing the operation," echoes the beleaguered head of the Coast Guard.
Where are the skimmers that could at least be expected to vacuum up more of the ghastly muck off the face of the ocean? Where are the people gathering up the now oil-soaked booms being blown into the shorelines around the nests of the very shorebirds they are supposed to be protecting? Surely there must be something more that can be done! Must we wait for the oil flow to be finally stemmed before we clean up some of it out there?
"For I am the Master of my fate."
Prophetic words perhaps? For it is up to people to decide whether this terrible catastrophe has a beneficial side. Will we decide to limit the oil drilling on habitat such as the Alaska Native Wildlife Refuge, the Bering Sea, the shelf off the Queen Charlottes, the deep ocean floor, anywhere the life forms that mankind is supposed to be stewards over inhabit? Will we decide to conserve gasoline and drive ony where it is absolutely necessary. Will we be more socially responsible in industry and commerce? Perhaps that comes from truly being "the Captain of our Souls."