Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Take a Moment

Sometimes it seems that each of us can be immune to the travails of tragedy...when it happens to someONE else someWHERE else. This is not to suggest that we don't feel sympathy or say a prayer for the victims, but it's nothing more than a passing thought and then we get back into the trivialities of everyday life.

In a manner of speaking, we have to employ these types of methods to stay sane. Every single day a tragedy of one variety or another befalls someone, somewhere. It's near too impossible to turn on the TV or radio, surf the internet or read the newspaper and not hear or see a litany of human-caused and natural disasters that impact and forever alter lives, shatter dreams and/or destroy vast tracts of land or sea. If any of us spent all our time deeply ruminating about the ephemeral happenstance called life, we would have no time to accomplish much of anything else.

With all that said, I ask you to take a moment to consider how your little corner of the world would be changed if the BP oil spill was happening in your locale. (Note: If you're living in one of the gulf states, I realize there is no room for imagination as this tragedy is your reality!) Imagine a nearby waterway, be it a creek, river, lake, bay, harbor or coastline.

I can certainly tell you that it would destroy so much in my neck of the woods. South Bend sits at the entrance of Willapa Bay, an estuary described by many as the last pristine bay of its kind on the North American Pacific Coast. Our bay represents the nesting area of many birds and waterfowl. We also have a sizable Bald Eagle population that lives here most of the year.

One of the major industries of the northern part of our county -- the area I live in -- is oyster harvesting. Along with fishing and timber, these three industries form the backbone of our impoverished economy. Though greatly underutilized, canoeing, kayaking and sailing are becoming increasingly popular.

An oil spill, only a fraction of the size of the one currently befouling the gulf, would absolutely devastate this portion of Washington. As it is, good jobs are few and far between, so adding several hundred more to the unemployment rolls would break the meager social services available here. In fact, I dare say an oil spill of any size would bankrupt our county and our 4 incorporated towns.

It's not hard to imagine at all that South Bend would become a virtual ghost town!!

Aside from the economic considerations, I know that tar balls and oil sheen would break my heart. One of the things I love about this area is that we are surrounded by water and nature. If the water became degraded and toxic, it would kill untold numbers of birds, fish, oysters and wildlife. This would cause my heart to break ten times over.

I'm sure if you envision the devastation an oil spill (or any other large scale human-engineered disaster) would cause in your community, your heart would be just as broken. A way of life that is part of who you are would be torn asunder.

I ask you to keep these kinds of thoughts in mind every single time you run across reports or images of the gulf oil spill. Remember that there but for fortune walk you or I.

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