As July 4th approaches--my homeland`s birthday--my mind starts drifting towards America. We`ve had our ups and downs, but in my heart, I will always love that big, crazy melting pot of a country.
The distance between Georgia and me seems the farthest when something bad is happening. I can see a map in my head with a big red line arching between us, showing how far it really is. Home is where the heart is, they say.
And right now, my heart is in the ocean, in the Gulf of Mexico, that beautiful coastline right next to where I grew up. The oil is creeping closer and closer to the beaches of my childhood.
BP is burning animals alive right now, trying to fix their fuck-up as quickly as possible. They are using fireproof boons to contain big bubbles of oil and burn it up. The problem is that turtles can get trapped in these boons. BP ships have been blocking the ships of environmentalists who want to rescue the sea turtles before the fires are lit. Read about it here.
I told my oldest sister to take her five-year-old daughter to the beach as soon as possible. I didn`t realize that what I got to see in my childhood--stretches of sand with nothing but plants and shells and seagulls--might one day be a rare luxury for the people of planet Earth. After watching children run happily on a beach covered in trash on the coast of Japan, I realized that this is the world we are becoming.
People are learning to accept the unacceptable. Beaches should not be covered in trash. Endangered animals should not be burned alive because a mega-corporation can`t get its shit together. And I shouldn`t have to worry that by the time I get back to my home state, I won`t be able to recognize Tybee Island for all the oil washing up on shore. Or worse, dead animals.
I`m not the best environmentalist there is (I don`t want to talk about how many times I`ve flown in the last year), but I truly believe that every little thing we do makes a difference, even if we can`t make our entire lives environmentally sustainable. Every time you take your own bag to the store, you`re taking one more plastic bag out of the ocean. Every time you order the vegetarian option, you`re taking one more animal out of a hellish factory farm.
Right now, we need to come together and say that the oceans need our help. The Bluefin tuna is on the brink of extinction right now--its only breeding ground in all of the Americas was in the Gulf of Mexico--and people are still clamoring to the store to buy cans of Chicken of the Sea. In Japan, people are covering tables at Kappazushi with ￥100 yen plates of maguro sashimi.
I`m going to start posting links to petitions and causes on my blog and try to get more readers. Not many people take these online petitions seriously, but it is online petitioning that just saved the whales this week. The Humane Society started a save-the-whales campaign to help keep the moratorium on commercial whaling in place. Representatives from various countries were about to vote on whether or not to lift the ban on whaling, but lobbying on the part of special interest groups helped sway the vote. Thanks to their work, whales are as safe as they have been (which isn`t that safe, but better than extinct). Petitions work! And if we don`t sign them and keep these movements alive, who will?
So this Independence Day, I`m going to ask everyone who cares about America and the world to sign at least one petition for a cause they believe in. And better yet, why not donate to an organization you love? Most places take donations as small as $5 and put every last penny to good use.
Every week (or whenever my heart wants me to), I`m going to write a post about a cause or organization that I think is important. A cause or organization that we can help by something as simple as signing a petition or sending an email. I probably sign a petition every other day at least, and I usually see only positive results from it.
Here is a petition for today. Currently, companies are only responsible for paying up to $75 million for a spill cleanup. This petition is urging the government to raise that cap and make BP pay for its mess. Sign the petition.
I think this is a weekly feature that I can stick to.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It`s not.
--Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax