BP Oil Spill One Year Later - What Have We Learned?

I know people are already sick of hearing about this anniversary. Since the cameras left last year and people have resumed their lives, it is assumed everything is back to normal, and guess what--pictures don't lie!  Or do they? See, there's a little thing in writing called "spin" and it has developed into a true art form. Depending on your resource, you can get any answer you want depending on which way the "spin" is turning.

Of course things look clean...on the surface. But anyone who thinks that this kind of massive oil spill and the chemicals involved in the production of and the cleaning of the oil will not have long-term consequences are fooling themselves.

Frankly, I'd rather hear from the people who are still on the front lines--the residents of the Gulf Coast--about how life really is on a day-to-day basis. I'd trust their word over any corporate press release or soundbite from a PR exec. I'd trust their word over most journalists.


I hope people remember those who lost their lives in the explosion and the thousands--millions--of animals and sea life that died and continue to die because of the spill, and that they remember the communities who live off what the Gulf provides. 


Remember all this when you go to the gas station or go out to that new seafood restaurant for dinner. I'm not saying feel guilty, I'm just saying remember, and give a bit of thought of the sacrifices that went into bringing these things to you. We may not all like seafood, but unfortunately, we are all tied to the oil umbilical cord.

I would like to think that people are fed up with corporations and politicians bedding each other and transmitting their disease of looking the other way to the rest of the world. But there's only so much pain and disaster any person can take, and many people can't think of what it would be like to lose a loved one in a disaster or to lose their livelihood--that is people other than the ones who are directly affected.

In the case of the BP Oil spill, at least we are being screwed with oil-based lube as BP boasts about rising profits and the possibility to continue drilling in the Gulf. Their recovery is clear for the world to see, but not so much the recovery of everyone else.

It's funny. The other day I was reading an article about the growing health issues facing people who worked in cleaning the spill. I try not to read the comments after articles because more often than not they are the playgrounds of the terminally vitriolic and selfish, but sometimes you can read a comment that's worthwhile. One comment came from someone said something along the lines of "Where are all the leaders? It's like I woke up in America and no one was in charge." 

I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember what he/she said and it's probably burried by hundreds of less meaningful comments by now, but the point is that this person was lamenting about how we, as a nation, as a people have completely lost any sense of leadership. We have all decided to point fingers and play the Blame Game rather than take control of a situation.

In my mind leadership requires courage, organization, common sense, and the ability to do the right thing no matter what it costs or what the risk. Also, you can't be a leader if you don't have the respect of those you are leading, and it's hard to respect anyone with questionable sense of ethics, let alone morals.

People may scoff at the paternalistic attiudes of classic TV shows like Father Knows Best or Leave It to Beaver, but I no longer feel patronized by these black-and-white visions. What is so wrong about teaching your children to be responsible and mindful of others? And thank GOD(DESS) for June Cleaver who would remind Ward when he wasn't living up to his image as role model for Wally and the Beav by practicing what he preached. Instead, what do we have today as an example of fatherhood and role model for those lacking a better one?

Charlie Sheen.


Until we all start taking responsibility for our actions and holding people accountable for theirs, we will ALL go down the toilet pointing fingers of accusations at each other about how THEY are to blame for our collective misfortune.

Meanwhile, as you ponder these things, I hope you'll take time to look at the charity anthology Oil and Water...and Other Things That Don't Mix that was born in the She Writes Southern Writers group and has its own group here. All proceeds of the anthology goes to benefit two Gulf charities, Bay Area Food Bank and Mobile Baykeeper, so any and all support is appreciated. Visit our blog and you can friend us on Facebook.

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Comment by Rev. LaWaughn Rouse on April 25, 2011 at 7:33pm

Awesome Zetta

This really gives us something to think about. I love the way you write and express your point of view. Keep sending them to me.


Comment by Yvonne T. Osborne on April 25, 2011 at 6:03am
Yes, instead of spending money on slick, misleading commercials maybe they could pay their fair share of income tax. Or get the hell out of our country.
Comment by Patricia A. McGoldrick on April 24, 2011 at 10:09pm
So glad to be a part of this anthology that keeps the "oil spill" in the news!
Comment by Kamy Wicoff on April 24, 2011 at 2:45pm
Zetta, fabulous post.  I am so glad to have you here -- and have really enjoyed showing off my copy of "Oil and Water"!  (The last person to admire it was Gloria Steinem, who was mightily impressed.)  I am featuring this post so everyone can see it on our main page!
Comment by Yvonne T. Osborne on April 23, 2011 at 5:24am
Worse, BP is trying to avoid all US income taxes in spite of their billions in profits since the oil spill by using every trick available in a faulty code.
Comment by Zetta Brown on April 22, 2011 at 9:56am
I remember the Exxon Valdez and when that was considered the biggest oil disaster. If anything, the Deepwater and the Valdez disasters should make everyone pay attention. Unfortunately, too many people are willing to ignore everything as long as the price of gas stays "affordable."
Comment by Vivian Faith Prescott on April 22, 2011 at 6:30am

The anniversary of the Alaskan oil spill caused by the grounding of the Exxon Valdez came and went with no national news (March 24th). We forget so easily. Read my poetry chapbook online titled SLICK which depicts Alaskan perspectives on living with oil. Also, I have poetry videos available on YouTube at alaskastikine's channel Planet Alaska Poetry.

Comment by Lyn Jensen on April 21, 2011 at 12:39pm
You may want to look up the history of the Valdez oil spill, including the VHS Greenpeace concert, "Black Rain Falls.'  Nothing's changed since then, except perhaps for a more apathetic public.
Comment by Dera R Williams on April 20, 2011 at 9:21pm

Great blog Zetta. I appreciate you and Nicky's and all the other writers' contribution and part to ease some of the pain. Your commentaries on leadership and personal responsibility was right on. On my list for the weekend is to start reading Oil and Water. I will read a story or two a week. Thanks for all you do for Southern Writers and your charity.

Comment by Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson on April 20, 2011 at 9:02pm
I am on the Gulf Coast. I was born here and it is heartbreaking what has happened. Besides the environmental damage the economy is in very bad shape. I've never seen so many shuttered businesses and for sale and lease signs all along the coast. Everyone is very concerned about the long term effects having to do with the food chain. Oil is lying on the floor of the Gulf and showing up in sheens and mats and balls of tar all along the area affected. There is a deep sadness and a fatalism that runs underneath the normal day to day life. Thanks Zetta for all you have done and to all of you who have responded.


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