Guilty conscience

June 5, 2010

I am guilty.

Others may point fingers at BP and even President Obama, but I must take responsibility. I killed this bird. And hundreds of others. I choked off the dolphin, who washed ashore. My oil, destined for my car, coated and smothered the mighty pelican.

I am guilty.

I will let BP take a great deal of the blame.  But I – I must stand up, weeping, and declare that the oil is on my hands, too. I bear the guilt and the blame. I own a car. I drive it. And it sickens me. I am part of the conspiracy which has brought about this disaster. I am a criminal.

I cannot breathe life into the thousands of birds and sea animals that have died. Seeing the images – particularly the photograph and video taken by AP photographer Charlie Riedel of the valiantly struggling bird weighted down with oil, but struggling on to live – make me cry as I have not cried in years.

David Letterman may jokingly refer to the Gulf Coast as the “Dead Sea” – but that joke is no longer funny. It is painful, and true. This is an environmental holocaust; a low-tech equivalent of a nuclear bomb, annihilating all within its path.

I desperately want to shoot my car, to always walk wherever I must go, no matter how many hundreds of miles – but I know the reality is that I will get in my car again tomorrow, and the next day, and the days and weeks after, and I will kill more animals. I will watch more birds and fish and beautiful creatures die. Their blood, my oil, will soon cover me. I will suffocate myself in my tears. But I will sadly remain unchanged.

Months from now, I may claim I was innocent. That I had nothing to do with this. To “wash my hands.” But mere water cannot remove this guilt, this oil, that clings so close. I leave my blackened handprints everywhere, on all that I touch.

I am guilty.

I want to tell that struggling bird that I am sorry. That I did not mean to take his beautiful, precious life. That he has inspired me in his struggle to remain alive,  to witness his Life Force being so strong, even as it was waning. Watching him die grieves my very soul. I cannot give him his life back.

I am guilty.

© writingreading, 2010