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The public relations consultants for BP have finally hit on something that will resonate—don't you love that word, “resonate?”--that will resonate favorably with the consumer-citizens of the United States of American, particularly those who live in the Gulf States. . . . Prayer.
Brits are such a resolutely irreligious lot that it has taken BP an inordinately long time to figure out that when its audience is the consumer-citizens of the United States of America, its representatives must liberally leaven their comments with calls for prayer and at the same time assure the American people that they themselves are praying.
I was personally so moved by this BP spokesman's suggestion this morning that I pray for high pressure, that I thought I might write a blog entry about the experience. And then one thought led to another. . .
This whole prayer thing might be turned to greater advantage. I thought I might write a bit more about how prayer might effectively be employed on so many fronts in connection with this immensity—in addition to our immediate prayers this morning for high pressure of course. Not that I think prayer is going to have any effect whatsoever on the substantive problem, but rather, the whole religion thing will make people feel better, which is what religion is really all about. Isn't it?
The results of the recent ABC poll in the Gulf States concerning President Obama's declared moratorium on off-shore drilling caught my attention. A purely temporary halt in order to regroup, to reexamine safety standards, to improve enforcement, and to proceed with caution seemed rational to me in the circumstances. Sixty per cent of the Gulf State consumer-citizens disagree with me and believe the moratorium to be a bad idea. I thought that I might write about how this had caused me to reexamine my own conclusions and ultimately, after some prayer for guidance, to change my mind. I now realize that our best course of action is to charge forward immediately with more offshore drilling, including deep-water drilling, and simply pray that nothing catastrophic occurs again.
On an even wider front, I thought about how we might tackle the whole problem of a civilization so founded on petrochemicals that we have no alternative but to continue to bring the Devil's excrement up to the surface of the earth in ever more destructive and dangerous ways. Of course we cannot do without, but neither can we find the wherewithal to reduce consumption. President Carter installed solar panels on the White House in 1979. President Reagan quietly removed them in 1986, symbolic of the attitude of each and every one of us since the oil crisis of the 1970's. I thought that I might write about the obvious solution to the massive problem we face now after our long and resolute refusal to do anything at all to save ourselves--prayer for our salvation through some divine miracle.
There is a catch, however. According to our great Christian tradition, salvation requires sincere repentance of sin and absolution, either through faith and faith alone or through the mediation of the Church. Throughout this mess, I have been waiting for that one figure with a public voice and with balls enough to place responsibility for this disaster where it belongs, squarely at the feet of the American people themselves. That of course is too much to ask. The demos must be flattered and pampered as Plato pointed out. Nonetheless, it is a pleasing fantasy. Anderson Cooper on CNN speaks interminably of “hopes and prayers” just as this BP spokesman now does. He would be perfect.
Anderson Cooper, the conscience of America, should look solemnly into the camera and inform the consumer-citizenry of the United States that they bear the ultimate, entire responsibility for this. They brought this upon themselves. To be angry with a multinational corporation for attending to its bottom line to full extent that it could get away with is like being angry at a dog for chasing a cat. That is simple scapegoating.
Anderson, the conscience of America, should be firm about this. He should point out that this is not like the Bhopal disaster when Union Carbide only killed or maimed a few thousand Indians who were miserable anyway. Those Indians were not consumers. This is not like the Exxon Valdez spill that washed onto shores inhabited only by a few other of God's creatures over whom He gave us dominion. Those pieces of wildlife were not consumers. No, this is washing onto the Gulf Coast beaches and wetlands of the continental United States itself and can only be viewed as God's judgment on real, honest-to-goodness consumers. God's justice in this is hard to miss.
I thought, therefore,that Anderson, the conscience of America, should suggest a long period of national prayer for forgiveness. Each and every one of us ought to get down on our knees in unison and pray for God's forgiveness for what we have done to our portion of the planet that was His gift to us. This needs to go on daily for months. A real old fashioned revival. (Anderson's celebrity status, a thing critical in our culture, would as a byproduct be enhanced a hundred fold.)
THEN we pray for the miracle.
Clearly, the science of the Enlightenment is not going to get us out of this mess. We are beyond the point of no return there. The Enlightenment with its theory of controlling nature through science is now over. We have no choice but to revert to the medieval religion thing and "hope and pray" for a miracle. Absent the miracle--absent as miracles so often are--people will still feel better. (And the Pope's celebrity status, a thing critical in our culture, would as a byproduct be enhanced a hundred fold.)
I thought about writing on that subject in this blog, but then I discarded the idea. That sort of thing is not what this blog is about. Rather, it is about me. This particular environmental catastrophe is none of my business. There are a myriad other bloggers out there to make it their business.
The whole slow meltdown of a civilization based across the board on petrochemicals supplemented by coal is something even more surely beyond the scope of my endeavor or comment. I am down here below the Tropic of Cancer with my feet up, sitting it all out amid a peaceful sea of empty, disposable, petrochemically-based plastic water bottles and rhapsodizing on the subject of my truck. The only thing that truly concerns me personally is whether, in the midst of the meltdown, the American social security system might be saved. I would like to continue to receive those checks. In fact, I pray for that miracle.