In reflecting on the abysmal and horrific oil spill, I came across this NY Times article with the following quote:
“The London-based oil giant will be trying to reassure investors that the cost of cleaning up the oil spill is manageable and will not have an impact on dividends, British media reported. Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive is expected to tell investors that the cost, estimated at $1 billion, can be absorbed by cash generated from its operation around the world.”
The cost of this oil spill is far greater than $1 billion, but that is what happens when you think of ecological and theological issues in terms of dollars and cents. The economic gains are weighed against the ecological risks; in short, comparing apples and oranges. A life, be it human or not, cannot be valued or compared in dollars. Life is an eternally qualitative phenomenon, money is exclusively quantitative. A situation like this gives people the chance to come out and say it. As Wendell Berry reminded us at his talk in Arlington, now is the time for someone to come forward and say, “Enough is enough. We need to stop our greed and consumption.” The cost of the oil spill is not only incalculable, it is exponentially increasing daily. It is dirtying our souls and consciences because we know that the affects of the spill will impact those yet unborn. We will have to answer the question, “Why?” and the only answer will be, “Greed.”
This most recent ecological tragedy is representative of the leeching that informs the vast majority of the way the West has viewed the entire world since the so-called Enlightenment. “Enlightened” white men have viewed the earth itself and the peoples who inhabit it as means to an end, whether it be fame or glory or money or domination, embodied most egregiously by capitalism. That Western society still lives life the same way and now evangelizes this blasphemy to the entire world is beyond tragic and simply absurd.