The Oil Spill

The Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has written about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Her comments demand attention amid the many voices clamoring to be heard. Her words lead us from the environmental disaster into matters of the heart (like our consumerism and the greed of the market) and into the families whose lives will be forever changed by an event over which they had no control, but WE could have prevented (unlike Hurricane Katrina).

She begins by reminding us that we all are connected, we are in this together. We  are affected by this disaster and we must be part of the solution.

The original peoples of the North American continent understand that we are all connected, and that harm to one part of the sacred circle of life harms the whole. Scientists, both the ecological and physical sorts, know the same reality, expressed in different terms. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) also charge human beings with care for the whole of creation, because it is God’s good gift to humanity.

There is enough culpability to bring us all to a prayerful repentance and a determined and hope=filled response. She speaks forcefully of our responsibilities and the realities we now deal with. She reminds us again that we are all connected.

The still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is good evidence of the interconnectedness of the whole. It has its origins in this nation’s addiction to oil, uninhibited growth, and consumerism, as well as old-fashioned greed and what my tradition calls hubris and idolatry. Our collective sins are being visited on those who have had little or no part in them: birds, marine mammals, the tiny plants and animals that constitute the base of the vast food chain in the Gulf, and on which a major part of the seafood production of the United States depends.

It isn’t just the creatures of the sea but also our families, friends, neighbors, and folks like you and me who will be affected by this spill.

Yet the reality is that this disaster just may show us as a nation how interconnected we really are. The waste of this oil — both its unusability and the mess it is making — will be visited on all of us, for years and even generations to come. The hydrocarbons in those coastal marshes and at the base of the food chain leading to marketable seafood resources will taint us all, eventually. That oil is already frightening away vacationers who form the economic base for countless coastal communities, whose livelihoods have something to do with the economic health of this nation. The workers in those communities, even when they have employment, are some of the poorest among us.

After speaking of the kinds of suffering still to come from this disaster she exhorts you and me and all of us together to take seriously our connectedness and our need to care for God’s beautiful and fragile creation.

There is no place to go “away” from these consequences; there is no ultimate escape on this planet. The effects at a distance may seem minor or tolerable, but the cumulative effect is not. We are all connected, we will all suffer the consequences of this tragic disaster in the Gulf, and we must wake up and put a stop to the kind of robber baron behavior we supposedly regulated out of existence a hundred years ago. Our lives, and the liveliness of the entire planet, depend on it.

The entire post can be found on the Huffington Post Religion Page


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