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Reflection on the Oil Spill Crisis

Posted by at 5:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)


Reflection on the Oil Spill Crisis by Michelle Rivera

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About 10 years ago, I attended my first humane-education conference in Denver, Colorado. There were about a dozen people in the room, and the topic of the day was “The Cycle of Violence.” We learned a lot about the link between cruelty to animals and violence to humans.

Each of us described incidents of cruelty to animals in which police and prosecutors took a “ho-hum” stance and did nothing. We commiserated on how hard it was to get the authorities to take cruelty to animals seriously. The prevailing attitude was “It’s just an animal.” And this seemed to be the mindset nationwide. The solution, we were told, was to show the authorities how unpunished incidents of cruelty to animals can affect society. Show people how stopping cruelty to animals will help people, and they will take it more seriously.

I remember thinking then that it was a shame that we couldn’t value the lives of animals simply because they were animals. No, we had to find a way in which helping them benefitted us.

I am having feelings of déjà vu. While watching news coverage of the oil spill crisis on television, I heard only one person—a tearful female wildlife ranger—talk with great emotion about how these were her dolphin, pelican, and fish friends being killed as a result of this fiasco. Her point was that it is her responsibility (and ours) to preserve and protect animals and the environment—not because of the benefit to people, but simply because they exist and deserve the right not to be destroyed by our arrogance and greed.

Other people, it seemed, were more concerned about helping the animals who were suffering in the oil spill so that the animals could be exploited and killed later. And Rush Limbaugh made a statement to the effect of “Who cares about a few dolphins?” I may be asking the same thing. Who?

The fishers, the shrimpers, and the people who make their living catching oysters are upset because their livelihood is being wiped out. I’m sorry that they are in financial trouble, but when you decide to make your living by depleting our natural resources and killing millions of animals, don’t you think that something, such as an oil spill, might happen one day? It was bound to happen—either through a human—caused disaster or a natural disaster. Is there no Plan B?

I watched the now-famous footage of the destroyed marshes and the oil-soaked pelican with my grandson. He didn’t understand why the bird was walking funny. Try explaining the connection between the gas in our cars and a dying bird to a 5-year-old. It is not easy for a mind that has not yet been corrupted by all the evil in this world to understand why such suffering exists. As Denzel Washington said in the movie Philadelphia, “Tell it to me like I’m a 6-year-old and help me understand.” Please. Help me understand.

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3 Comments

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    Melissa says...

    June 20th, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article. After learning of the BP spill and upon hearing the fishermen complain about the future of their industry, I failed to have compassion for them. Instead, my immediate thoughts were how wrong they have been all along to make their livelihood from animal suffering. I had wondered if I was the only one feeling this way but now know I am not. Your words were comforting. I am sorry you had to explain these things to your 5 year-old, although I have a feeling you did it perfectly. :-)

    Lisa Obst says...

    June 20th, 2010, 7:38 pm

    BP is solely responsible for the worlds largest environmental disaster. Their safety precautions obviously are not sufficient as this would and should have not occured at all. BP should invest high $ into ensuring that all of their other rigs will not do this plus other mining coys.
    BP should be funding a MASSIVE animal and environmental recovering and sponsoring global voleenteers with expertise in this.
    BP should be ashamed, Big Problem BP fix it!!!

    Mitch says...

    June 24th, 2010, 6:51 pm

    Unlike many I have no problem with eating fish and animals however that never justifies their cruel treatment and this oil spill has been an abomination that seems to be met with apathy by most of the populace. Still, I was hoping to see more outrage from PETA, anything to help whip up more support and demonstrations, but no guess not…..

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