I don’t have the answers. I barely have the questions. But I’m not egotistical enough to imagine I can come up with a solution or complete understanding on my own. I also don’t think sitting in front of the TV, feeling angry and impotent, is the answer. This is our Chernobyl. Our genocidal war with our own environment. We may implode with oil and shed a tear for the dead fishing industries. Swim among tar balls and swollen sea turtles. We’ve done it to ourselves, grown up obeying the homegrown U.S. ethos of “Progress. Increase your wealth. Produce, produce, produce!” We panic when the GDP wanes. If we don’t have full-time jobs we spend the bulk of days doing, we feel empty and worthless.
But what are we contributing to? Americans aren’t afraid to work, no question. But we don’t seem to have our eyes on the horizon—we don’t seem to know what all of our blood, sweat and tears are building. We mourn the men who died on that oil well platform; we applaud their determination to do their jobs. But the oil – why has this lust and greed and profit-for-oil dictated how we heat our homes, run our machinery, get us around? Why do our jobs rely and focus on getting and selling the black sludge?
Why do we live with this reliance? When I note that I don’t have the answer, I am simultaneously aware that the current ways we live are inherently, and traumatically flawed. We are co-dependent users, whether we realize and admit it or not. My children–and yours–will have to deal with the fallout of this legacy – the future? It’s finally time to change the view. Now we are forced to ask the questions in our own backyards: How else can we carry on? How can we replace our reliance on oil? What harm have we done? How can we slow down the pace, stop working for greedy oil profit margins and think more humanely about exactly what our jobs are?
These are just a few of the questions we’ve begun to ask. We now must get other Americans to ask these questions. The media isn’t going to pose them. Our media is owned and run by big business. They will not imagine better ways of life for us. America has done great things; we still have the power to do more. If we can just start envisioning a different future than the one on our horizon (and TVs) right now…
Please find a number of new statements and poems linked below from regular Americans, necessarily increasing in dialogue and scope, asking vital questions – please participate, think aloud, figure out what world you’d like to be borne into and what world you’d like to leave your children living in. Share with your friends, family, co-workers, and strangers alike. Let’s become our own “think tank” and stop giving big business the power to tell us how to live our lives. We’re still here – it’s not “too late” to respond, to change things in small ways at first — if the effects of this spill will be felt for decades, so should our actions in response to it! Thanks for joining this growing nationwide conversation…
Poets and Writers Magazine — “Poets Act on Oil Spill“
Poets and Writers Magazine — “Poets Take Action in Wake of Gulf Coast Disaster“
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Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.