LSS: What can you do to help with the oil spill?

Sitting poolside as my daughters swim, listening to the afternoon radio guy give the latest developments on the latest failure at stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a major disconnect.

Life seems so normal.

Yet, the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to change so much of life and the lifestyles of people along the Gulf that I struggle to keep my head wrapped around the situation. Granted, I have no personal connection to the disaster, but like several friends have said, “It feels like I should be doing something to help.”

Even sitting in the relative tranquility of a light breeze blowing and children swimming in a pool I don’t have to clean, the petroleum disaster looms in my mind. I have this image of how this same pool would look if there were a five-gallon drum of crude oil seeping into one corner of it. How long would I let my daughter stay in it then?

Since late April, a loop of questions has run like background noise in my mind. Every time things get quiet, the questions leap to the surface.

First, there are surface questions. How will the weathered oil change the look of the coastlines – from the marshes and wetlands nearby to the sugar sand beaches of Destin and beyond? Then, what is all the crude oil going to do to the flora and fauna in and along the Gulf? How many generations of shrimp, crab, redfish and more will be affected? Will it kill the reeds and grasses immediately or will some persevere? How long will it take to come back or will it? What will the dispersants do to the whole scene? Should we have used them at all?

Then, there are practical questions. How do they contain the stream of oil that has been flowing now for nearly 50 days? How will new and changed regulations affect the oil industry? How will those changes affect the economy? Is this a situation similar to Katrina (or any other disaster, for that matter) when it’s only the people most affected who keep it top of mind for long?

Friends who know much more than I do assure me that Mother Nature is the best cleaner of even manmade disasters, but what should the rest of us be doing?

For now, no one really knows the answer to that – or any of the questions.

For now, most believe the only thing most of us can do is pray – in whatever form you believe in.

In that spirit, my friends Aimée Dominique and Anne Hollier are organizing something that could help. They’re organizing a labyrinth walk from 10 a.m. to noon on June 26 at Asbury United Methodist Church.

Walking a labyrinth is the closest thing I know to prayer taking a physical form – in this case, walking (which, in the big picture, may be one of the few other things we could do to help lower our dependence on oil).

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