Impeach BP!

There’s enough information about the Gulf Oil Spill to make your head spin, your heart heavy and your stomach turn. It’s been suggested more than once that I “stop reading so much about it”. And I would love to, but someone has to hold BP accountable, and since it’s obviously not going to be the government, then I guess it’s going to have to be us. The only way I know to do that is to get and stay informed, and to share the vital information BP tries to neatly sweep under the rug.

This morning I’m still reeling over the fact that BP has been left in charge of the oil spill – both assessing the damage and then making the decision regarding the best way to clean it up. We are well aware that BP got us into this situation through blatant lies and cutting corners. Why would we trust them to clean it up in a way that is sensitive to both our environment and our own health? The answer? We absolutely cannot. And yet, they are still running the “show”, and is it ever a show. My favorite quote this week is from this NPR article, outlining BP’s “restatement” about the spill size once it became impossible for them to continue that lie:

“Too much information is now in the hands of BP’s many lawyers, and too little is being disclosed to the public,” said Larry Schweiger. “The Gulf of Mexico is a crime scene, and the perpetrator cannot be left in charge of assessing the damage.”

Indeed. We have a lot of highly educated, well-trained talent in our country, in our world. We should assemble a team of scientists and engineers who are top experts in this field (and NOT on the payroll of any oil company) and put them at the top of the chain of command. BP should be forced to accept what this team finds, findings that are FULLY disclosed to the American people, and to implement the remedies this team outlines as the best and most appropriate for finally securing the leak and for cleaning the gulf. Basically, someone without profits as a motivating factor should be telling BP what to do, and BP should simply be writing checks and doing what they are told.

This CNN video alone should tell you that BP is either playing out its own agenda while paying mere lip service to the people of the United States or is grossly incompetent and cannot oversee this matter, or more likely, BOTH. I didn’t realize until a few days ago that the EPA “order” to BP to stop using the toxic chemical dispersant Corexit was merely a “suggestion” – you know, you guys should really stop using that stuff, unless you just think you can’t find anything better, that is. To the EPA, and to the rest of our elected officials – kindly I say, grow a pair. Somewhere along the way it seems BP earned a seat in our government. I’m not sure how they managed that but they are definitely there, with all the pull of a top Washington official. It’s time to impeach BP.

As the above video shows, hundreds of thousands of gallons of a much safer dispersant have been sitting in the Houston sun for over a week, waiting for BP to pick it up and use it, all the while BP is dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly toxic Corexit into our precious Gulf waters (see¬†the last post about the problems with Corexit). Here’s the problem – people seem to want to believe that BP actually gives a damn about what happens to the Gulf, to the people, about cleaning up their mess. So let’s get this straight right now: BP cares about one thing: PROFITS. Period. Don’t get me wrong – I do not deny BP the desire or right to earn profits. Private enterprise exists to make money, and I have no problem with that. My problem is that you cannot allow an organization who created a problem the size of the Gulf oil spill in pursuit of profits to remain in charge of cleaning up that mess. They now have conflicting goals, and the goal of profits will ALWAYS come first.

We now KNOW that BP 1. will cut any corner to save a buck and 2. will lie right to our face even when everyone knows it’s a lie. And even our Coast Guard doesn’t appear to have authority over BP. Since when does BP control maritime law and the airspace overhead? ¬†According to the USCG, boaters cannot visit the area of the spill, which rules out a massive section of the Gulf of Mexico by the way, and private pilots cannot fly overhead. And the USCG says those are “BP’s orders”. If those last two sentences didn’t make you so mad you’d like to punch Tony Hayward in the throat (and kick at least ten government officials in the groin), then you had better re-read.

BP has indeed created a massive crime scene in our waters. And as it grows in size by the miles every day, BP tries harder to throw it’s shroud over the mess, grin and say: “Oh, it’s not that bad. The Gulf will clean up easily. There won’t be that much damage.” And it seems too many Americans and politicians sit there wide-eyed and dazed, staring at BP’s swinging pendulum, absent-mindedly nodding in agreement. This is your wake-up call, folks. Hear me snapping my fingers and pulling you out of the trance. Know that virtually every word out of the mouths of every BP executive is a colossal lie, told to placate you and to keep you off their backs.

We have to demand more. It’s time to remove BP from office. BP is not capable of replacing their profit goal with that of putting the health of the people and marine life first. And they shouldn’t be expected to do so. BP should be forced to hire independent consultants from the private sector (BP does NOT get to choose them – we do), and they should have ZERO influence over this team’s findings and recommendations. And I do NOT mean a mealy-mouth task force hastily put together by Obama, who apparently took more than 30 days to decide something needed to be done here. I do NOT mean more people from Washington, and I definitely don’t mean the EPA. I mean men and women with backbones, people with no personal agenda except to save our earth, marine life, our health, our fleeting precious resource that is clean water.

America’s Real Epidemic

Few weeks go by that we are not subject to hear about the latest societal “epidemic” on the nightly news. I believe we have a very serious epidemic in America, but it has nothing to do with health or diet, at least not directly. America is suffering from a severe shortage of personal responsibility. I just finished reading “Man’s Search For Meaning,” in which Viktor Frankl, a psychologist who survived 4 concentration camps explains our most basic freedom, that of personal choice. I’ll let Frankl speak for himself here:

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Here is a man who, stripped of every single thing that can be taken away from a person without taking physical life itself, dug deep into his soul to discover that one thing which makes us free, our ability to choose what meaning we assign to everything in our lives. Through a harrowing process that even my imagination cannot bear, Frankl discovers he is, in fact, a free man – freer than the guards in the concentration camps.

In America today, I fear that freedom has degenerated into the arbitrariness Frankl described, a land where people are not held responsible, and need not be with a government who coddles massive corporate greed, thoughtless business blunders and an environment where no one is allowed to feel the repercussions of their decisions and actions.

As we all sit back and hold our hands out to the government, we systematically hand our basic rights back over to them, essentially admitting we are not to be trusted with daily decision making and thereby invite them into our homes and lives to tell us how to live there. If we grew up with parents who were like the United States Government, we’d all still be lying in cribs with soiled diapers.

To be sure, there are a lot of responsible folks like Cory the Well Driller, hardworking, self-made people, who epitomize why we fought so hard for freedom. It’s this group of people who don’t have time to fight for their rights, because they are busy fighting against the system just to keep the fruits of their labor, simply to hold onto the things they’ve worked their butts off to attain. These folks are quietly living life, being accountable and watching the things they worked so hard for be handed to those who don’t feel like working.

To this group (and to myself) I offer this challenge: start holding others accountable and stop worrying about political correctness. Stop accepting excuses and start demanding more. If someone doesn’t want to earn their way, let them live with the results of their laziness. We in this group willingly contribute to actual charitable causes, and ensure that worthy causes remain funded, but that does not include the welfare nation.

And to the irresponsible masses: shirking personal responsibility and expecting someone else to clean up your mess is equivalent to taking the lives of the men who died in the American Revolution yourself. You invalidate all that they fought for, all that they gave up, all that they risked, in your lazy irresponsibility.

We have an epidemic alright, and one for which I’m quite certain we’ll never see a magic pill. The historic election we have just witnessed has so many wonderful, positive aspects. I do hope however, that Obama’s approach will not further denigrate our freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. It is MY hope that Obama is indeed an agent of change, and in so being demands responsibility and holds individuals and businesses accountable before “spreading wealth around.” It is my dream that people start holding themselves and EACH OTHER accountable, demand more and accept fewer excuses.

What if…

Presidential elections are an exciting time in our country, this country of free speech and equal rights, when each one of us has a vote that counts exactly the same as every other persons vote. Regardless of age, gender, race, income and a myriad of other factors that differ among us, on election day (provided you go to the polls) your vote counts the same as my vote.

It’s also a time of change. Elections are our opportunity as a people to voice our opinion on how our current administration is doing, by either giving them (or their party) continued reign, or by ushering in a new regime. Either way, change is upon us, because elected officials listen very closely during election years and at least make attempts to speak the language of the voters.

There may well be a lot of things wrong with the system and with politics in general, but by and large (provided we exercise our rights), we direct our own future during these crucial times. So it’s important to be sure we make informed, intelligent, rational, *non-emotional* decisions during elections. Unfortunately, the trend I notice is that election times bring out the worst in us, incite arguments amongst friends, fights between otherwise clear-headed individuals, and the worst judgment and condemnation by individuals that we will see, before the next election rolls around.

I just want to offer a few of my thoughts on raising our awareness and maintaining the peace and civility that make us human:

  1. Every one of us is doing the best we can with the resources we have. We don’t all begin with the same resources and we don’t progress through life at the same speed and so understand that, what has shaped your perspective may not have entered another person’s awareness yet. Also, your perspective may lack all the evidence as well. None of us have all the same information, so keep an open mind to the possibility that you are not yet informed enough to make a sound decision.
  2. Fundamentally, we all want the same things. I’d wager few of us would deny that we strive for a better world for our children, for safety and harmony in our streets and in our schools, for understanding and acceptance of our own flaws and mistakes, for grace and forgiveness when we mess up, which we all inevitably do. So why are we so quick to judge others? I think it stems from number three.
  3. People often operate, or at least react, from a place of fear. People fear failure, success, being judged, being wrong, scarcity (this permeates many aspects of our lives – we all wish for abundance), uncertainty, etc. If we can “prove that we are right” then we offer ourselves momentary certainty. These things we fear are impossible to eliminate, so, rather than face them and risk encountering them, we try to protect ourselves by flinging accusations and ill will at others, which for a brief moment, helps us feel better about ourselves. This is generally followed by a terrible period of guilt for what we have done or said. We need to find a way to be comfortable in uncertainty.
  4. People respond in kind. If you want to ensure being judged, judge others. If you want to ensure your opinions and thoughts get ridiculed, offer the sentiments up first to someone else. But if you want to be accepted, loved and respected, try taking a deep breath before you respond or react to *anything*. Imagine if someone made a biting remark about a candidate you favor – you took a breath and said “Interesting, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Tell me more.” Can you see how the rest of the conversation would be markedly different?
  5. The candidates will only give us what we are willing to accept. As long as we perpetuate the mud-slinging on our individual levels, the candidates will continue to do so. What a beautiful thing it would be if we could have an election where every candidate stood on their own platform and “rowed their own boats.” Imagine Obama and McCain spending the next 2 months telling us only what they believed in, and outlining their own plans to make this country a better, safer, more healthy place for all citizens. Imagine if we didn’t have to spend time discerning the contrast between the negatives, but could focus on the best of what each candidate can offer us.

Yes, perhaps I live in my own Utopian mind, dreaming of and wishing for such a place. But perhaps, if each one of us took a breath and practiced a single extra moment of patience, kindness and understanding each day, we really could transform our country, overcome this negative energy, and slowly drive the restoration of this great nation, just by loving each other.

What if…