June 2, 2010

Yesterday, Sophia got invited to go home with a friend after school.  The friend lives close enough that the girls (with the friend’s mother, of course) walked from school to the house.  Unfortunately, on the way there, walking became running at some point and Sophia — in a pair of shoes she was wearing for the first time — tripped and fell.  She skinned up both knees, one shin, and one palm.  The friend’s mom got her cleaned up and calmed down, but Sophia just didn’t feel like staying there after that… she wanted to come home for some coddling from yours truly.

After I picked her up and brought her home, she started talking about what had happened.  Her friend was blaming herself for the mishap, saying that she shouldn’t have encouraged Sophia to run.  Sophia was blaming the new shoes for what had happened.

I pondered both of these statements and fell back on my usual explanation when Sophia is searching for a target to blame:  “It doesn’t have to be someone or something’s fault.  It was an accident.  No matter what we do, sometimes accidents just happen.”

Wanting someone to blame for our misfortune is human nature.  We simply cannot accept that something horrible happened to us for NO. REASON. AT. ALL.  There just has to be a malicious force at work in the universe that is out to get us, right?

Well, no.

The truth of the matter is, sometimes bad crap just happens.  And a whole lot of it is happening now in the Gulf of Mexico — has been happening, in fact, for about a month and a half.   What is happening there is nothing short of an environmental tragedy.  Photos like these make that point quite clear.  But is it really necessary to vilify someone in order to satisfy our frustration with the lack of a solution?

As the disaster has unfolded, I’ve watched media reports turn from somber to grim to frustrated to irate.  One morning this week, the usually gentleman-like Harry Smith on CBS’ Early Show shouted down a BP rep he was interviewing and even made snarky comments about his answers.  Additionally, groups like “Boycott BP” and “I hate BP” are popping up on Facebook right and left.

Does blaming BP and threatening not to do business with them make us feel better?  Like we’re somehow, in some little way, in control of the situation?

We are not.

No one knows how — or when — the leak will be stopped.  But I for one would like to have more people offering jobs to the now-unemployed fisherman of the area, cleaning off the birds who are so coated with oil that they cannot fly, cleaning the beaches where people used to swim and play, etc.  Surely this would be a better use of our time than shouting at oil company executives.


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