Monday, June 14, 2010

An admission of personal cowardice . . .

Back sometime in the 1980s I tore a photograph of a starving Ethiopian woman and her starving baby out of the newspaper, stuck it in a frame, and put it on my telephone table at work. It's still with me on my desk at WMRA, because I never want to not be reminded that there is great, great human suffering in this world. And that it is my calling as a human being to do whatever I can to alleviate it whenever and wherever I bump into it.

I've stared at that starving Madonna and child for over a quarter of a century now without flinching. And yet, in the long weeks that BP's been spewing oil into the Gulf, whenever I've opened newspapers and seen a photo of of an oil-soaked brown pelican, I've refused to look at it. I've turned the page or clicked the mouse.

No more.

Today on Morning Edition, Nell Greenfieldboyce's story asked the question, "Should Oiled Birds Be Cleaned?"  The story pointed out that the birds caught in oil are not just soaked, they're poisoned as well -- ingesting oil as they preen.

I poked around on the internet and found similar articles on CNN, The WeekThe Daily Beast, and other blogs and on-line news sources. The British newspaper Telegraph's article was bluntly slugged, "BP oil spill: It would be kinder to kill these oil-drenched birds."

It seems we humans may have created suffering on our planet that simply cannot be fixed. So the least I can do is have the guts to look at pictures of it.

1 comment:

  1. I've donated a print to be sold for wildlife relief, but i think pumping up the air in my bicycle tires would help more in the long run. Our consumption and low tolerance for discomfort is the big issue behind the spill.

    ...what we "want", and what we "get" are two entirely different things in the same guise.