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Disaster and Foresight

Disaster and Foresight

I do not know about you, but I can hardly watch the news about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  To think of the millions of gallons of oil polluting the beautiful Gulf is sickening beyond expression. 

I think of all the innocent creatures that are dying because of our human errors.  They do not deserve what we have inflicted upon them.

We know that thousands of Americans are going to lose their businesses because of this disaster.  It is not only a economic fisaco, but also a cultural one as well.  Once a community is disrupted, its culture is broken up and lost.  Between Hurricane Katrina and now this oil spill, the culture of southern Louisiana will never quite be the same again.

We all feel a lot of anger.  The Obama administration seems hapless in its response, but the basic reality is probably that the federal government is just incapable of doing anything directly to stop the spewing of the oil well.  BP is trying to stop it, but the oil well has been spewing for a month.  Yet the basic reality is probably that BP is using whatever limited engineering concepts and technology exist to stop the leak.  One thing is clear:  federal government regulation has not been implemented with the integrity and vigor necessary. 

You have to wonder how people employed by the federal government can live with themselves knowing that they are responsible for regulating an industry in order to protect the ecology and workers, but they act as if they have no awareness of the seriousness of their jobs.

It would be tempting to be simplistic and to denounce the oil industry.  To do so would be hypocritical since all of us participate in the way of life built upon petroleum which is hauled out of the bowels of the earth.  There are no simplistic or instant solutions to the threats facing the world because of our dependence upon oil.

Yet foresight is going to be required to move toward a future in which the use of oil and coal are minimized for the sake of a healthier ecology and peace in the world.  We shall need the kind of foresight which could have avoided this disaster in the Gulf if the regulators and officers of BP had done what they should have done.  Yet when we consider how we as a society have done almost nothing since President Jimmy Carter called for a new energy policy as "the moral equivalent of war,"  we should be aware by now that we lack the virtue of foresight. We cannot continue to be so irresponsible.

Foresight is possible for human beings.  It requires the use of our reason and a committment to exercise wisdom. It is a spiritual gift of God's grace for which we both pray and work.  In other words, this is the call of the Creator to human beings at this moment in history.  It is a call to fulfill our vocation to be the creatures who mediate between the Creator and the creation by expressing the creation's praise to the Creator for the Creator's gifts of fecundity and beauty, and by exercising responsibility to the Creator by being good stewards of the Creator's gifts.  Threats to the creation constitute a spiritual crisis for the human race, as the Council of Bishops has warned in its pastoral letters and foundation document called God's Renewed Creation. at