The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, July 30, 2010

Who is Responsible for the BP Oil Spill?

Who is responsible for the BP Oil Spill?

We are. Every person who was willing to spend 4.00 a gallon for gas was responsible. Every one of us has to wake up and realize that giant corporations are just acting out our unconscious drives to expand, eat, work as little as possible. They are vast, dispersed, protozoic quasi-organisms suffering the macro-version of America’s obesity epidemic. They are no better, and no worse, than the human beings that compose them. And the only answer to their growing power is that we, as the component cells of these “organisms” had better wake up and make conscious choices.

What stops us from awareness, awakeness, from taking adult responsibility for our lives and the world is fear. Face our fears of scarcity, of “the other”, of death, of loneliness, and virtually all the selling propositions of Madison Avenue, Washington, and Hollywood evaporate like vapor.

We can point the finger, or we can re-examine our priorities, and heal our hearts. Hypediaphobia (hy·peg·i·a·pho·bi·a) is the fear of responsibility. And responsibility is the door to adulthood. Trying to seek enlightenment? Fuggetaboudit unless you have first taken responsibility for your existence here and now.

And as long as you blame “them” for larger versions of what we, as individuals, do every day…this nightmare will continue, unabated, growing larger and stronger as we squabble. Wake up, people.

Our grandchildren are watching.


Anonymous said...

"They are vast, dispersed, protozoic quasi-organisms suffering the macro-version of America’s obesity epidemic."

I honestly think this is an exercise in over-to-top anthropomorphism, with some ill-considered implications. First, the metabolic metaphor's a stretch. Yes, corporations consume resources and minimize work delivering the goods in order to maximize profit. But corporations don't metabolize and can't become "obese". Yes, corporations (associations in general) are composed of individuals and share in aggregate some of their attributes. However, distinct properties emerge from the collective. Group pressure and hierarchy constrain some behaviors and facilitate others. Honestly, this is often desirable. While it's commendable for individuals to stick by personal ethics, to enforce these via organizational apparatus smacks of coercion. Would it be "just" for a BP CEO to decide on her own that Gulf drilling is "unethical", and to force that opinion on staff and stockholders, nullifying the charter that defines the collective profit mandate? Organizational structure constrains such expression, rendering corporate behavior more "mechanical" than "organic". Paradoxically, the impersonal machine nature of corporate activity may protect the freedoms and investments of the parts comprising the whole.


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Steve Perry said...

Can't agree with the responsibility notion on this one. BP's folk were directly responsible. They cut corners and screwed up and that's why the well blew out.

That folks want cheap gasoline and turn a blind eye is less willful than ignorant. Most people most places don't have the wherewithal to suss out the complexities of multinational corporations and the doings of nation states.

I don't buy gas from BP, and the idea of we-are-all-responsible can be stretched to fit anything if you use it thus. So If little Johnny shoplifts an iPod, it's because society's demands that he have the toy or he's nobody is our fault? If Bill beats his wife, or Tom shoots his neighbor, they did it, not me, nor you.

Sure, we all could do more with Kumbayah and loving our fellow men around the world, but responsibility for specific actions lie with those who perform them.

The missionary in the cannibal's pot might say, "Bless you, child, you are a product of your environment." but not me, babe ...