Thursday, June 10, 2010

Embarrassed by a Leak

Fireside and More on the Gulf Leak

Last night's public meeting in Dunnville attracted 18 people. The speaker was Anne Pearson, who shared her experience in interfaith activities in Hamilton. Her talk was in my opinion excellent, worthy of being made into a TED talk. This is the highest praise I can give at a time when I have thrown out network television in favour of watching every TED address as it becomes available on the Net -- that is, on average a new 20 minute talk every day or so. Anyway, Anne's point was that the one commonality and the distinguishing feature among the world's major faiths is their emphasis on ethics. No other part of society is offering that in the world's forum of opinion.

I have a certain oil leak in the Gulf on my brain lately, and after she finished I obtruded the first question,
"Lately I can think of little else but that BP oil spill in the Gulf. What could religion and all its vaunted moral teaching have done to prevent that leak, which after all was the result of a technical mess-up, not a moral failing?"

Anne begged to differ, the real cause of that leak was a vice known as greed. Naked, unashamed greed. And yes, if you look back at the rap sheet of BP over past decades -- since their last major disaster, the Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska -- it is a long litany of cost cutting, of petty nickel and diming the most basic measures protecting nature and the poor blighters who have to work for this predatory group. If you look down that long list of decades of breaking rules for cost cutting, it is clear that greed is pretty much the motivation behind the cabal of criminal minds running this outfit.

However, as Noam Chomsky repeatedly points out, these executives are legally required to do everything they can to maximize profits. If they did not do what they have, the shareholders and board are required by their corporate charter to fire them. Honest, self-respecting people simply do not make it that high on the totem pole. The corporate constitution requires that profit come before all else, including the benefit of the human race.

As soon as that leak started, my readers will recall, my first reaction was, as I since found out, the same as most people when asked about this situation -- the man in the street simply asks, "Why are these cynical clowns not in jail?" Here was my phrasing of that question:

The Gap Behind the Gulf, at:

Thousands, if not millions, of the world's malefactors are in dock for far less damaging crimes against humanity and nature. Why not the executives of BP? Why do white collar thugs so rarely see the inside of a jail cell? Why does a drunk driver disappear behind the walls of a "correctional facility," while these BP executives end up displaying their honesty and integrity for all the world to see in paid advertising campaigns, and -- to mention only yesterday -- standing up denying the existence of underwater plumes on Good Morning America?

Answer? It is not rocket science. In one word, money.
Yes, Anne, the oceans of money at their command does boil down to greed, and greed causes corruption. But it seems to me that there is more than just greed at work here. It is systemic greed. Only systemic greed could require executives, who should be servants of the prosperity of the human race, to lie through their teeth the way the BP executives are, for all the world to see.
The division between energy and the use of energy that the super-rich created for themselves is the ultimate oligopoly.

Nobody is ever going to let go of a golden egg laying goose like that. For greed is not part of the capitalist system, it is the system. Systemic greed monetizes the source of all our energy. It is as if you had to plug your body in to some food monopoly and fill your body's energy supply from the same Seven Sisters Monopoly every time you wanted to to get up in the morning.
Total slavery and corporate profit taking masked as business as usual. The entire society pays the oil companies for every move it takes.

So never doubt that the oligarchs will never give up this carbon monopoly without a fight. BP definitely does not stand for "beyond petroleum." The only way beyond petroleum is for the 95 percent have-nots to assert their rights and pull the plug from the 5 percent haves by setting up geothermal, wind and sun energy sources everywhere.

Anyway, all this raving is just by way of introduction to an essay by George Monbiot about this Gulf Disaster. It is, in my opinion, by far the most insightful commentary I have seen on this situation. If I had my way, the Swedes would create a Nobel Prize for Journalism just so that it could be awarded to Monbiot for this article. I will analyze it and comments about it in detail later.

Meantime, you can read it at:

In the meantime, here are some quotations of the master that shed light on systemic injustice.

"If the animals are savage and ferocious, it is simply a means for their subsistence and preservation. They are deprived of that degree of intellect which can reason and discriminate between right and wrong, justice and injustice; they are justified in their actions and not responsible. When man is ferocious and cruel toward his fellowman, it is not for subsistence or safety. His motive is selfish advantage and willful wrong. It is neither seemly nor befitting that such a noble creature, endowed with intellect and lofty thoughts, capable of wonderful achievements and discoveries in sciences and arts, with potential for ever higher perceptions and the accomplishment of divine purposes in life, should seek the blood of his fellowmen upon the field of battle. Man is the temple of God. He is not a human temple. If you destroy a house, the owner of that house will be grieved and wrathful. How much greater is the wrong when man destroys a building planned and erected by God! Undoubtedly, he deserves the judgment and wrath of God." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 352)

This prayer the Master revealed for the enemies of the Covenant, but more broadly it applies, perhaps, to other wrongdoers,

"I call upon Thee, O Lord my God! with my tongue and with all my heart, not to requite them for their cruelty and their wrong-doings, their craft and their mischief, for they are foolish and ignoble and know not what they do. They discern not good from evil, neither do they distinguish right from wrong, nor justice from injustice. They follow their own desires and walk in the footsteps of the most imperfect and foolish amongst them.

O my Lord! Have mercy upon them, shield them from all afflictions in these troubled times and grant that all trials and hardships may be the lot of this Thy servant that hath fallen into this darksome pit. Single me out for every woe and make me a sacrifice for all Thy loved ones.

O Lord, Most High! May my soul, my life, my being, my 
spirit, my all be offered up for them. O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty.

"Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!"

(Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 18-19)

P.S., Jimbo offered the following comment in response to this post:

Hey John, 
Have you seen what might be called Deja Vu...
The more oil spills change, the more they stay the same: 


Google Docs makes it easy to create, store and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
Google Docs logo

No comments: