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Posted by Philip Patston on 24 June 2010, 10:07 am in , ,

BP's gush wreaks human havoc

As I watch BP's oil gush into the Gulf, I can't help but feel slightly impotent. I'm not usually one to confuse my manhood with world events.

There's something paralysing about watching the reckless, ravishing waste in my living room each night. It makes me want to stride into somewhere with manly authority, sort it all out and make it stop.

But I can't and that makes me feel limp with inadequacy.

The so-called "BP oil calamity" – perhaps it would be more metaphorically consistent for me to call it a proverbial cock-up – reminds me of hearing Al Gore speak at the Closing Plenary of the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford in 2008. Gore angled towards "purpose" in his tale of doom and gloom about global warming and environmental sustainability.

He urged all social entrepreneurs not to see the green lobby as competing for airspace. Rather he asked that all efforts to alleviate social injustice – whether poverty, disease or cultural stigma – be reframed as an act of purpose towards saving the planet.

Although I could see the merit of his argument, I feared then he may have been slightly missing the point. I still do. I think it's more to the point that efforts to save the planet should be redirected into acts of purpose towards saving humanity.

Incidents like the BP Gulf gush ("spill" seems a little understated) – and the havoc they cause – seem to me to have far more to do with human beings than the planet. I think the issue we need to grasp is our relationship with ourselves and each other, not our relationship with the Earth.

Until we value, respect, and love ourselves and each other so much that we would never do anything, either in the short- or long-term that would hurt anyone, I fear we will never eradicate environmental harm.

I suspect that social, environmental and economic improvement will happen only when we recognise and truly believe that we are completely and utterly connected to every living thing on, of and around this planet.

Until then, but only in my darkest hours, I admit to remaining emasculate in my attempts to see any hope for meaningful change to occur.