Today is the 5th anniversary of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, affecting the beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida. The deadly accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed eleven workers when it exploded, and gushed oil for nearly 3 months uncontrolled. This environmental disaster has been our nation’s worst to date, affecting lives and livelihoods and wildlife across the region.
The spill’s impacts remain to this day.
Today is also the 16th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting– a devastating event that we thought was an anomaly. In the 16 years since, we’ve seen countless shootings–and several mass shootings–of innocents (and innocence). Those who gush about their right to protect themselves are quick to deny the consequences of gun culture and violence, and any sort of responsibility for ensuring freedom for those who are unlucky enough to be in the path of a disturbed individual (or two).
When madness bubbles over, and we lack sophistication in our abilities to de-escalate, we are left with the crude culture of violence and abuse, limiting lives long after the initial explosion,polluting our environment.
Those tragic anniversaries of devastation linger not only because they were utterly horrific and wake-up calls, but even more tragically, because they continue to devastate, and remain unresolved and likely to happen again at any moment.
Policies (and certainly politics) related to guns and the environment have not changed significantly; nor has the culture at large changed with regard to environmental or gun regulation. Regulation is still considered by many to be an infringement upon freedom, rather than the standards for health and safety for all. And while our health care system has been fought over, those afflicted by mental illness are still too often not able to obtain necessary treatment. The effects are not only individual. Individual health affects public health. The ways in which we treat our ailments, individually and societally, still seem crude.
I’m not one to ascribe significance to a date that has had terrible tragedies. As we move through history, there will be more events (good and bad) occurring on the same date. Sometimes there is significance, and often it is crude. I seem to recall that the reason April 20th was selected as the date for the massacre at Columbine High School was because it was Hitler’s birthday.
Hate bubbles to the service in each generation, but how we deal with hate and indifference, as well as greed and ignorance, each crude states, can be (and must be) challenged anew.
The 2016 race has officially begun, but I feel like it’s still the bubbling crude. It’s as though we are coated in greed, indifference, hate and violence–stuck in the gulf. We have become a more crude culture, and we’ve seen the deleterious effects when it bubbles to the surface.
We have a lot more cleaning up to do. Maybe, remembering the flammability of that bubbling crude will inspire more alternative energies going forward.