Friday, May 28, 2010

What hangs in the balance

Tonight as I was reading through blogs I came across a post on Frog Ponds Rock about the oil spill in the Gulf and a piece of pottery Kim has been inspired to create as a result, the response of her artist's soul. She included a link to a series of graphic photos from the Boston Globe and posted one of the pictures on her blog. An image of a dragonfly on an oil-soaked blade of grass, trying to clean it's soiled wings.

Other than the occasional headline news story, I've avoided looking at photos of the spill because I haven't wanted to face the images. But tonight I clicked on the link and of course it was heartbreaking. Formerly white birds moored to the ground by heavy black coats, mile upon mile of sick-glistening delta.

I tried to explain the oil spill to my 5-year-old son, who came to sit next to me as I scrolled through the images.

“Why are you sad?” he asked.

“Those birds are covered with oil. Their bodies can't get warm. They will try to use their beaks to clean the oil off their feathers and they will swallow it, and it's poisonous. They will die.”

“What is all that?”

“That's oil too. It's in the water.”

Jim and I explained that it affected all the plants and animals that live in and around the water. How if we got in the car and drove all day and all night long, we still would not have driven the length of the spill.

As I scrolled through picture after picture, I felt several things: anger, disbelief, disappointment. But mostly I felt immensely sad. Not just sad for the Gulf, but sad on a grander scale. What hubris have we that we rip our resources from the earth so carelessly that with one slip, we wipe out an ecosystem.  We live our lives of moderate comfort, myself included, and when tragedy happens we give voice to our distress and then turn off the news and go to bed.  But do we ever truly see what hangs in the balance?

In her post, Kim posed the question, how does one compensate for the life of a dragonfly?

How indeed. What is the value of a dragonfly? Or a heron? Or a stand of swamp grass, or a pool of salt water teeming with invisible life?

Bookmark and Share


  1. Kristin you have the soul of an artist as well. I wish that I had some answers but all I have is questions and an overpowering sense of sorrow. What sort of world are we leaving our grand children?

  2. What sort of world are we leaving the herons and pelicans and sea lions and oceans?

  3. It was so disturbing to see those images. I cringed through all the pictures. My heart literally ached. Those poor animals. I feel so helpless.

  4. Thank you for adding your voice and your awareness. Even now, I see my beloved state suffering more than it already was before. I looked around today, and examined everything in one small corner of my home. Even if I picked everything I could see in plain sight up that contained something that needed a petrochemical to be in existence, there were still too many things to count that were there. Inside every appliance, every computer, my phone, my car, my childrens' toys, right down to the birth control implanted in my uterus. All of it needed oil in one shape or another to be created.

    My guilt is so immense. I wish desperately that I could say that ignorance was bliss, but I beat myself up doubly so for being so ignorant. Especially now that the land I love with my entire being, the land that I have bled into in my efforts to save it in the past when it was threatened, is facing utter decimation.

    I doubt the Everglades will survive this. Our reef systems will never be the same. Our ever-shrinking subtropical biodiversity will be narrowed even further, and I am responsible for it.

    Where do I start to pay for my sins against our land? Where do I go for absolution? I suspect that my guilt will be my punishment for the rest of my life, but what good is that punishment if I cannot make amends?

    There aren't enough "I'm Sorry"s for me to say to my children.

  5. Absolutely heartbreaking to see. I'm going to be interested to see the work that @frogpondsrock pulls out of it.

  6. I too avoided looking at the photos because it was just too heartbreaking... I believe this will be with us for a very very long time ...

  7. Sorry mate but I continue to stick my head in the sand on this one. i don't want to know. I look, but I'm not seeing.

  8. This is heartbreaking, yet so very touching. At times like these, we can either feel despair, or turn despair into compassion for the countless beings that are hurting. Sending them plumes of light and love energy may not seem like much, but it can soothe their pain at the level of consciousness. Thank you for expressing your compassion through your post!

  9. This is so overwhelmingly sad. I have actively avoided this subject,in an attempt to avoid the sorrow. The suffering that we've inflicted on these innocent creatures is so immense, and there isn't a lot we can do to make ammends.
    Thank you for writing about it, raising awareness.

  10. the dragonfly, as a symbol of change and progression and maturity, is a startling image soaked in oil. this is a magnificent creature honored throughout history by so many cultures and this photo has, rightly, become the image of the aftermath of the oil disaster. and the aftermath is just beginning to be felt. you are so right in the range of emotions you are cycling through. me too. so many of us.

  11. @Accidentally Mommy - I understand your distress, but beating yourself up helps no one. You could live the life of an ascetic and it would change nothing. None of us has committed any personal transgression, in my mind, rather it's a collective act of hubris and egotism, thinking that we (homo sapiens) are somehow more important than the rest of life that supports us and upon which we depend. It's how we've moved forward over the centuries and what we need to change (again, collectively) if we are to survive. The earth is strong and regenerative and ultimately will survive us, I believe. I just hate the thought that when we go, we will take so many other species down with us.

  12. Eloquently written. Times like this infuriate me. When will the human species get its act together?

  13. while i do feel for the animals,and the land I would like everyone to realize that this land, and these animals are in our backyards. literally our back yard
    what will the health effects of this oil, these dispersants be. will the water that comes out of my tap be safe to bath in ? it is pumped from the water that is contaminated by oil
    will my air be toxic ?

  14. Devin, that's an excellent question. I sure hope someone with authority in your community and the hundreds of communities like yours can answer that.

  15. As a person who grew up in Florida and loved my visits to the Everglades, it is immensely sad for me to read the comments of people who say that they might not survive this. I love the Gulf of Mexico. I grew up walking on the sandy shores and dipping my feet into the Gulf. I don't feel that you can compensate for the lives that are being wasted because of this oil spill. I have avoided looking at photos as well, but avoidance doesn't help. Your post made me cringe, cry and declare that I do not want to sit by idle as the Earth is stripped of total ecosystems. I want my grandchildren's children to be able to enjoy green fields, clean oceans and air.

  16. Hello. Found you and followed you over here from the "twisted paths" contest page.

    My thinking: if you're entering their contest, and follow them, then I'll find a good blog here.

    And I did.

    I enjoy your style of writing, and am very glad I hopped over.

    Happy to have found such a quality blog.

    Thank you.

  17. This saddens me so much.
    To hear this morning on the news that the top kill didn't work was heartbreaking.

    On a different note, I researched why I wasn't able to comment on blogger blogs, and found that I must accept 3rd party cookies. It did fix the problem.

  18. I will be thinking about this post for a while...


Mmmm, comments - nom, nom, nom, nom!


Related Posts with Thumbnails