Thursday, June 17, 2010

Speaking out, spoking out

I'm thinking about Diane Wilson today. She stood up to BP CEO, Tony Hayward as he began his address during a Congressional hearing in DC this morning. Smeared with artificial oil, she called out that Hayward should be prosecuted for his company's crimes against nature. She was handcuffed, taken out of the hearing room and jailed. Mr. Hayward proceeded to speak as a free man.

I have met Diane and have read her remarkable writings. She knows the waters and the sealife of the Gulf of Mexico intimately. She has made a living as a solo shrimper. She knows what she is talking about.

Here is an article that Diane wrote recently about the gulf and what she knows about the contamination it suffers at the hands of corporate polluters. The article begins this way:

I'm a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast, on a boat since I was eight. Over the last two decades, I've become a self-appointed watchdog of the chemical, oil, and gas corporations that are decimating the Gulf.

I hate to say it, but what I'm seeing now in the Gulf ain't nothing new. The toxic releases, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the nonexistent documents, the "swinging door" with regulators, the deaths. Same ole same ole.

What is new is the massive nature of the oil gusher and the fact that it can't be covered up because it's ongoing and being videoed. This elephant can't be swept under the carpet, but I'm sure if BP could, BP would.

There are politicians out there -- we've all heard them -- who say this oil spill is just one accident and one accident does not a case make. Heck, one plane crashes and you don't stop flying, do ya? Well, this isn't just one accident. This is the biggest flame among the thousands of fires set by Corporate America on its Sherman-like march across the Gulf.

and it concludes this way:

The bottom line is that the Gulf of Mexico dies a little every day from the tens of thousands of chemical plants, oil refineries, and oil and gas rigs that pockmark the Gulf and its coastlines. It's a death of ten thousand cuts, and many of these offenses don't get reported at all. We, the public, really have no way of knowing. The companies and the agencies certainly aren't going to tell us. They've proved that time and time again. The truth of the matter only becomes clear when something monstrous like the BP oil spill comes along and wakes us up to the nightmare.

It's hard to take in the immensity of the harm inflicted on our planet. Being aware of the barrels flowing every moment into our beloved Gulf of Mexico is like being ever conscious of the monetary and human costs of war accruing every moment. How can we stop the bleeding?

I admire Diane's courage in going right to the source. She can back up her nonviolent, dramatic protest with expert knowledge of the situation at hand.

My response to the catastrophe is less dramatic, but I feel in solidarity with Diane. For the past month, I've been walking or riding my bike more often than using the bus, which is one small way for me to accept some share of responsibility for living in an oil-dependent society, and to "be the change" I want to see in the world.

I haven't owned or driven a car since 1990, partly because of that oil war, so most in-town travel since then has been by bus -- which I love because of its community-building aspects. But now, I'm trying the further step of transporting myself more frequently by human power. Yesterday, for example, I biked for the first time to and from the job I have that is the furthest distance from my house. I biked about 15 miles total, which is not a lot compared to many bicycle commuters, but, for me, it felt like a good stretch in 95 degrees. What I enjoyed, as well as the scenery and the exercise, was being out there on my decorated "love your mother (earth)" bike. Passersby seemed to appreciate the sentiment.

The bicycle revolution that has been sparking the world in recent years is a big part of the solution to our energy crisis, I believe. This gives me encouragement and a way to act in the face of our planet's dire circumstances.

AP photo of Diane being taken out of the hearing room today after speaking out on behalf of the Gulf of Mexico she knows so well

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